Park Opens, Gets State Grant


BY KURT ALLEMEIER

A $300,000 state grant for the second phase of River Heritage Park highlighted Friday's official opening of the seven-acre riverfront green space in Davenport.

Aldermen, members of the city's Levee Improvement Commission, and representatives of the Davenport Rotary Club were on hand for a ribbon-cutting and the display of a big check showing off the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' Resource Enhancement and Protection grant.

The event, on a beautiful autumn day, showcased 600 feet of decorative railing on the seawall and the Rotary Club's recently completed gazebo in the park near East 3rd Street and River Drive.

Mayor Bill Gluba and local historian Karen Anderson wove together the site's history: the western side of the first Mississippi River railroad bridge, where the treaty ending the Black Hawk War was signed, how Robert E. Lee surveyed the river's rapids, and Abraham Lincoln's involvement in the Effie Afton lawsuit. Anderson called it the "cradle of the Western frontier." "History will be recreated and come alive in this new park, and the people of Davenport will be proud," Gluba said.

A 20-space parking lot remains to be completed in the park's first stage. The resource grant will pay for an additional 400 feet of railing and grading and construction of a promenade near the river.

The Rotarians' elevated gazebo, to commemorate the chapter's 100th anniversary, dominates the western end of the park and will offer sweeping views of the river. "The Rotary Club always looks to the needs of the community, and it is a testament to their incredible dedication and generosity that they contributed $100,000 to make the pavilion project a reality," said A.J. Loss, president of Bush Construction, representing the Rotary Club. "It is a permanent, visible way for the group to give back to the community while educating people on its key values."

The Rotary Club's contribution and support of River Action, along with the site's "overwhelming history," helped the city receive the grant on its second try, said Zach Peterson, a landscape architect with Public Works who designed the park. Last year's grant application didn't highlight community involvement in the site. In his speech, Gluba noted contributions from the Scott County Regional Authority and Riverboat Development Authority as well.

Alderman Bill Boom, 3rd Ward, where the park is located, is pleased the city received the grant to keep shaping a park that will draw those fascinated by the river and its history. "This is a great opportunity for the city of Davenport that will help this become a destination point," he said.