Saturday, October 7 - Design

8:00: Breakfast
[The laptop is now saving to a disc. Maybe it needed a good night's rest like the rest of us.]

9:00: DA sub-T Work Session II (context, issues, directions)
The subteams worked primarily on discussion of issues, mission, and program with very preliminary sketches of ideas.

Riverfront Sub-team: River as corridor; linear link of elements, Silos and Smokestacks venues, trails.
Need for a gateway, walkway development. Legibility and connectivity - visual read from the bridges, auto traffic, pedestrian traffic. River dredging - reoccuring cost. Program concerns: (1) Room - space. Focal point, entrance, plaza, node; (2) Activities: boating (motor, canoe, rowing, crew), fishing pier, cultural (amphitheater, festivals), recreation on foot and on wheels, passive (picnic areas, benches), consessionaires; (3) Access - legibility, river as a road; (4) Land use; and (5) Property acquisition.

Buildings Sub-team: Concentrated on the 4th street bridge as a focal point, icon, rallying point for downtown. Suggested closing bridge to vehicular traffic and enhancing its pedestrian uses by widening and possibly constructing seating and shopping areas on the bridge. Would include a couple of blocks of 4th street on either side of the bridge to connect to existing anchors such as parks. Trail connections on either side of the river to primarily recreational sites.

River Subteam: Dredging possibilities: (1) No Dredging/remove dam/watershed mgmt.; (2) no dredging/no dam; (3) no dredging/watershed mgmt.; (4) no dredging; (5) endless dredging; (6) one-time dredging/watershed mgmt.; (7) wing dams. Recommend: (1) small, immediate changes; (2) significant efforts on 5-year timeline; (3) major changes on a 20-year timeline. Discussed trails, connections, plant materials.

Implementation Sub-team: Relevant issues:
Time: 1 year = immediate
3 - 5 years = short range
10 - 50 years = long range
Economic/Financing: public/private
Environmental: sustainability
Regulatory: environmental (Corps of Engineers, DNR), zoning, historical, overlay
Communication/Education: marketability, time, reporting, visible activity, events.

Noon: Buffet lunch (brief sub-team reports, reality check)
Harry Gordon reported that the notes on Friday's activities, including the Public Meeting, have been posted on the Internet and sent by E-Mail to the other sites and we have received equests for assistance from some other sites. Milwaukee, for instance, is working with an elevated highway that divides an area of the city and asked for recomendations. We sent information from a Waterloo R/UDAT that dealt with highway design. It was suggested that we ask the Presidio Group and the Newton/Waltham Group about toxic cleanup information that we could use on the John Deere site.

The group spent considerable time discussion the dredging issue for the Cedar River. A unanimous decision was reached that we recommend no dredging of the river at this point because it is too expensive and is not sustainable. If upstream agricultural conditions change, however, it may then be appropriate to reconsider dredging because the source of silt may have been reduced so that the dredging would not have to be repeated.

Issues that still need to be resolved and/or considered:
Trails: Trail continuity along the river and connection to other trails. How to make the trails recognizeable (lights, banners, signs, etc.). The existing bridges have different visual and functional identities. Can they be unified? A trail system would serve far more people than a water system and so should be a higher priority. It should connect facilities, parks, neighborhoods, business areas, and include "feeder" routes. Could be a "fast lane" commuter trail on one side of the river along the 218 freeway and a "promenade" trail on the other side that would primarily serve pedestrians. Need to think about what happens at the nodes where the trails and other transportation systems intersect. Along the river, need to get around bridge abutments, widen the walkway, planting, railings. May not be able to remove every obstacle but should improve accessibility.

Visibility: The floodwall obstructs views of the river at many points, especially when seated. Over time, can some walls be moved back rather than be repaired or replaced in their current locations?

Is the riverfront publicly owned? Most of it was acquired in order to construct the floodwall but it needs to be discussed as public property that is being reclaimed for public use, which is different from regulatory use. It would be an easy and nearly cost-free first step in affecting attitudes.

Riverfront aesthetics: the rip rap along the water's edge serves a useful purpose but it is not attractive or inviting. Technology regarding erosion control had made great advances in the last couple of years and it is possible to fill in topsoil and plant deep-rooted plants that could withstand flooding and submersion. Also, there need to be some decisions made about natural versus urban treatments of the river frontage. Define where those interface, explore gradual gradations, how use defines treatment. Need to make as much of it as possible self-sustaining and self-maintaining.

Area from the 6th Street bridge to the Rath Packing site needs to be addressed. It could be a transitional area from residential to CBD.

Need to do some collaboration between sub-teams so that they start moving in the same direction in order to achieve some coherent recommendations.

2:00: DA sub-T Work Session III (develop recommendations)

Some team members took a boat ride on the river to view the area from that perspective. Others worked in their sub-teams.

7:00: DAT Dinner (Town Hall)

8:00: DAT Work Session IV (coordination of recommendations)

Short presentations by each of the sub-teams were made to give status reports and compare orientations.

CBD Buildings: Key is the fronting of buildings toward the recreation and trail areas. Working off the Riverfront group's idea of making plazas of the parks on either side of the 4th Street bridge, would focus on how the buildings face the plazas. Also looking at the possibility of closing the bridge to vehicular traffic for special events and focusing on the bridge as a feature image. Cautionary note was made that some cities which have closed off streets to vehicles have had negative experiences because of reduced activity and vibrancy. Are working on a master plan for building use in a limited downtown area. And developing a seven-point plan for sustainable principles in building design involving energy efficiency, use of existing rather than new buildings and infrastructure, enhancing the use of bicycles and other alternatives to automobiles, sustainable building materials, buildings and landscapes that conserve water, the indoor environment of buildings, reducing construction and demolition waste, and recycling operational waste such as paper. It was suggested that a list of local resources be made available when the sustainability principles are presented to the public. Also suggested that issues of the aesthetics of the urban core, parking, and new building guidelines be included.

Riverfront: Exploring the placement of a trail along the water's edge on the East side of the river and on the West side, at the dike elevation, connecting the Re Center and other facilities. Looking at choices of being at the water or dike levels. Overriding interest is a continuous trail that is not crossed by auto traffic. Defining the plaza areas at either end of the 4th Street bridge.

River Corridor: Looking at biking as an urban experience and concentrating on visual cues such as signage, especially to schools, libraries, etc. Designing "follies" along the trails as playful interpretations of historic and social contexts. Would like to get John Deere involved in casting things like special manhole covers in the foundry.

Implementation: Examining incentives to attract development. Guidelines and image can be strong incentives because they make a more attractive environment for business.

Notes on Charrette taken by Lee Haugen.
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