Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Thanks to all who attended the "all wards meeting" Tuesday at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in the 4th Ward. We had good levels of participation. The meeting focused on the upcoming city budget, the city survey, as well as neighborhoods and a discussion with DPD. I will post notes/summary in the coming days. Special thanks to Ald. Ambrose, Alan Guard, Cyndi Webb, Dee Breummer, Chief Frese, Capt. Murphy, and Dan Sherman for their assistance and participation as well.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

New Neighborhood Finance Program Introduced

A potential neighborhood-financing program was introduced at a city council work session last week. The session provided council members an opportunity to hold a preliminary discussion on a program that would spark re-investment in Davenport neighborhoods.

The financing program would be open to individuals of all income brackets and would offer forgivable loans for renovation work at properties. The program could create sustainable economic diversity by increasing homeownership in neighborhoods. The method would support home purchase and rehabilitation in selected areas of the city. A number of action items were proposed for the initial review.

The main idea is to save our older central city neighborhoods. Davenport's older neighborhoods have a great deal of character and are some of the most significant historic areas in the state. These neighborhoods are at a crossroads.

We can take action and save a decaying asset, where infrastructure is already in place or we can stand on the sidelines and hope for the best. I prefer a proactive approach. The program is similar to the NFC in Des Moines. The NFC features a partnership with local lending institutions, Polk County, and the City of DM.

I initially began researching this idea following a visit to the Neighborhoods USA Conference in May. In the ensuing months I have recruited staff to help introduce this idea to neighborhood leaders, the NHS, the Scott Co. Housing Board, local banks, and the county. It is my hope that the council moves forward with this program and that the bankers and county comes along with the concept.

In Des Moines over $120-million has been invested and over 2000 homes have benefited from some much needed renovation since the early 1990's. The entities in DM each commit $1-million per year. DM bonds this out on an annual basis. The NFC is a 501(c)3 and features a board made up of lenders, housing officials, neighborhood leaders, and city/county staff.

In Davenport, a smaller city, an amount around $500,000 each should come close to having a similar impact. It is my belief that people belong to their neighborhoods first, before they belong to their city/state, etc. With a little extra support, maybe we can turn a corner and make some significant change.

Of course, the obvious question is the crime in our city. In order to truly make this program work, we would need to turn the tide on crime concurrently. Adding more NETS officers (a proactive approach to community policing that is working) would be key. Chief Bladel's new juvenile program would help as well. It is early in the process and I welcome any comments, ideas, or suggestions.

I have more information on my website with links to staff documents and the DM program: click here.

Thanks to Bruce Berger, Clayton Lloyd, and Craig Malin for their initial assistance and for others in the community for considering support for this proposal.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

National Conference Comes to Town

Davenport, and the Quad Cities, will welcome the 18th National Trails Symposium next week. It is nice to see the national recognition for our recreational trail systems. The past two conferences were held in Austin and Orlando, so this is a significant event landed by the QC Convention and Visitor's Bureau. It is nice to see the tourism dollars generated by hotel/motel tax revenues and in our community in general. It will also be nice to see these folks in the River Center for their workshops.

Our trails have come a long ways since the 1980's. The Duck Creek path is 10 miles long, spanning from West Davenport to the East Bettendorf. Our riverfront path now connects from the Isle/Capri to Credit Island, a solid six mile stretch. On the Illinois side one can travel from Sunset Park in Rock Island, 90 miles up river. This coupled with off road trails at Scott County Park, Blackhawk Park, Wildcat Den, and soon at Sunderbruch Park -- truly give us some great "quality of life" amenities for all to enjoy.

Click here to read more.

Monday, October 09, 2006

All Wards Meeting Set at Fairgrounds on 24th

I will co-host an All Wards Meeting, with Ald. Ambrose in the 4th Ward, from 6-8 pm, Oct. 24th, at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in the 4-H Building. Topics will include the recent city survey and the city budget, as well as any other topic citizens wish to discuss. The meeting is open to citizens from throughout the community. This will be my sixth city meeting of the year in the sixth different ward. I will host meetings in the 2nd and 5th Wards before year end. Additional info: click here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Four meetings, one common goal

I have been fortunate to attend four community meetings within the past week. Four meetings, four parts of town, and one common goal: making their areas of town better.

Here's a review of what transpired. I doubt any of this will grab front-page headlines, but it certainly is refreshing to see so much active community participation.

Palmer officials hosted a small meeting tonight to discuss their interest in cleaning up the area around their campus. The college invited neighboring churches, a representative from D-One, and representatives from Central High School. All were concerned about the crime in the surrounding areas and the aesthetics. Palmer is doing their part for sure, leading the charge for the neighborhood. The college is putting the finishing touches on a new state-of-the-art multi-million dollar building and is continuing to purchase and fix up a number of properties. Streetscape ideas were touched on and a desire for a NETS officer assigned to the area was discussed. The college has an enrollment of 1500 students, 1200 of which live in the city and inject a lot of dollars into the economy. The meeting was a positive first step in identifying the desire to move forward in revitalizing the area and tying into the downtown successes.

The RCC is moving forward as well. The Boy's and Girl's Club is in full operation. The RCC also is looking to continue building off of the success of West Little League and the adjacent park. Discussions included a kitchen renovation, new landscaping, and an improved parking area. Ald. Van Fossen also received praise for his significant contribution of beautification funds to the RCC.

The GCH neighbors had 20 members in attendance for a meeting last week. The group is planning to re-market the area to potential residents. The NETS officers have done a great job of eradicating crime in the area. Now the GCH neighbors are looking to promote the area and seek improvements. Ideas include more clean ups, signage, safer traffic patterns, and a network for communication among residents.

I already posted a report on this meeting (see below). Basically, the group would like to improve gateways, utilize URTE and Brownfield programs, and look for growth within existing businesses and from new businesses. Thousands work along this five-mile stretch and millions are generated into our economy. These businesses are major players in our local and regional economy and are banding together.