Friday, October 6 - Look, Listen, and Organize
Mayor John Rooff
*Thanks to organizers and caterer.
Aspirations and observations of participants
*Presented Waterloo situation to Mayors' Conference a year ago
*City administrators excited to grow
*River divided city for 100 years, transition into focal point
*river used for much recreation until 1950's - boating, picnics
*downtown was a former focus
*high concrete flood walls reduce flood damage, restrict visual and physical access
*concerns for safety inside flood walls
*water too shallow for recreational use
*property uses along banks prevent access
*make use of bridge crossings, donated land
*where to: hangout, congregate, find entertainment
*plan street events to attract people and merchants
*downtown seems to be business hours only - 9 to 5
*many cultural resources downtown, but too distant to be connected
*perception as polluted river no longer valid
*need to create gathering place, draw young people back from malls
*incentives to occupy empty buildings
*parking lots have broken the urban fabric
*dredge river to bring back boating?
*allow natural shallow river?
*multi-use trails around downtown, but none through
Silos and Smokestacks (Mary Ellen Warren & Tom Gallaher)
*Silos and Smokestacks is a grassroots movement for National Park designation to preserve and interpret the American agricultural revolution centered in Waterloo as the hub to various parts of NE Iowa.
Parks and Recreation (Tom Reardon & Paul Huting)
*Public Market Project - Renovation of existing building near the river to function as an interpretive center.
*Segregated areas of downtown. Hope to have transportation connections to bridge gaps.
*Renovations taking place downtown, but maintaining and supporting character by keeping traditional residential neighborhoods.
*Reconnaissance Study determined historic area is viable and part of the national heritage and needs to be preserved.
*Rath Packing facility being designated as National Historical Landmark.
*Riverfront Commission disbanded and made part of the Parks Commission in the 1970's.
Downtown Chamber of Commerce (Jim Lawrence)
*The funding for the Park Commission has ceased. Working to build partnerships with groups such as Rowing Club because of limited resources.
*Has put in a boat ramp, maintain river parks as green spaces, replaced some park benches.
*State Park between Cedar Falls and Waterloo is the most heavily-used state park in the state.
*Cedar Valley Nature trail currently stops at Evansdale. Hope to connect to the State Park and some parts have been funded. Designing trails for multiple use.
*Need an E/W corridor to bring people to attractions downtown.
John Deere Corporation (Lyle Schmitt)
*Long-range master planning team . Typically plan for about five years out.
*Operations will move to newer facilities and out of downtown.
*Power Station will remain and so only concern is to retain water level for cooling.
*Master plan does not call for the demolition of specified buildings but as operations move out, decisions will be made about individual buildings.
*Deere site is a very large potential park and recreation area that is an opportunity but is also intimidating.
*Dam has not been used for many years. It is owned by the power company.
The bus tour viewed the river from multiple points: boat landing, trails, bridges, highway vistas, neighborhoods, an parks (both developed and natural).
Walking tour visited the river and found more access through the flood wall than expected. They found that the ways down to the river's edge were not obvious and had to be searched out. They were found to be attempts to make the riverfront more welcoming, such as landscaping, but they were mostly too narrow and not comfortable. Also walked on 4th Street to the Central Business District (CBD) and toured a renovation project.
7:00: Public Town Meeting in Arts Center Little Theater (Mayor's
comments, project description, community input).
Approximately 20 community people came to this first public session which started with a greeting from Mayor Rooff. Bob Findlay explained the charrette process and the charrettes that are taking place simultaneously around the country. These sites are linked together via the World Wide Web. He also discussed the concept of sustainability as a three-legged milking stool, the legs of which are Economic Opportunity, Social Equity (both short and long term), and Environmental Responsibility. Discussions with community groups in preparation for this charrette showed concern for the riverfront and the impact of the flood walls. But concern was also expressed in regard to the river as a corridor and the building stock in the CBD. So three sub-team groups were formed: (1) the river, (2) the riverfront, and (3) the building stock in the CBD. Additional sub-team groups were formed to concentrate on implementation and communications. The community people in attendance stated their interests and concerns about the Waterloo area:
*Recreation has to be returned to the river.
9:00: DAT Work Session I
-Without a useable river, there is no reason to go downown.
*Love/Hate Relationship of the River
-River must be dredged and cleaned up.
-Water must be returned to a navigable depth.
*Motorized boating requires a lock and dam system.
-Recreation brings restraunts, shops, and other investments into the area
*Large investments up front.
*High maintenance costs
-Wide range of activities for non-boaters such as walking, picnicing, bicycling, etc.
-Reclaim old industrial developments along the riverfront for recreation.
-The threat because of flooding has been effectively controlled.
-Waterloo is now in a position to reclaim the river as a
source of enjoyment and economic development.
*Sustainable uses of the river
-If a river is sustainable, should there be continual
investment, such as dredging, in maintaining it?
*Mult-generational perspective - young adults to elderly
-Urban experience of river through city can be beautiful and enjoyable.
*Housing in downtown Waterloo
-Waterloo becomes empty after people leave work.
*Restriction of development outside of downtown Waterloo.
-Housing attracts people, stores, and businesses downtown.
-Incentives of downtown housing such as larger interior spaces and character.
*Public investments in schools and facilites because of low land values.
*Investment in year-long use.
Issues Raised and Identified in Public Town Meeting:
1. Need to think about and be careful in how the charrette process and design suggestions are presented because this is a community that has already seen a long line of redevelopment promises and very little has changed. How do we foster a new attitude? Build credibility and public faith in the process? Can only try to show that we are listening and taking into account what the people are saying, that we are not here for our own agenda but for theirs.
2. Each sub-team needs to think about implementation and not just leave that concern to the Implementation Sub-team.
3. The river dredging issue needs to be resolved because it is a hurdle that is going to hang up progress on all other issues. The dredging is tied to how the river corridor is defined and so it may be more useful to start with that because then the dredging issue will naturally follow.
4. Sustainability needs to be reinforced as the foundation for decision-making.
5. Only one voice has been heard from the community - those with an economic interest in certain kinds of development. We need to hear from others also.
Notes on charrette schedule kept
by Lee Haugen.