QUINCY — During an 84-minute meeting Thursday, the Quincy Riverfront Development Steering Committee viewed architectural renderings and photographs from 13 Midwestern cities that have completed multimillion construction projects along their riverfronts.
One the cities was Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where after the historic flooding of 2008, the city completed a five-year construction campaign that transformed 8.6 acres along the Cedar River, using $7.5 million in local government funding, $2.9 million in state funds and more than $2 million in private investment.
Cedar Rapids now has a riverfront amphitheater, with terrace seating that doubles as a flood levee.
Another city was Chattanooga, Tenn., where 129 acres were redeveloped on both sides of the Tennessee River in the early 2000s. Chattanooga officials say redeveloping the riverfront there has led growth of the "city's tourism and hospitality industry, spurred signature annual events and transformed the riverfront into becoming one of the most popular destinations."
The Committee also viewed plans from Charleston, W.Va. In 2008, Charleston began exploring how the Haddad Riverfront Park on the banks of the Kanawha River could be more used more and made visually appealing while connecting the city to downtown and nearby parks.
With a federal investment of $2.4 million and a private donation of $250,000, the riverfront now has a large pavilion, a performance stage for the city's Live on the Levee music series and boat docks. Today, West Virginia tourism leaders say the park is one of the top 10 destinations in the state and consistently draws 2,500 people to the riverfront for each concert.
SWT Design of St. Louis has been hired by the committee to craft a master plan for the riverfront.
SWT partner Bonnie Roy said on Thursday, "The objective is to be able to illustrate that other communities have been able to successfully develop their riverfronts when those communities were facing very similar existing conditions that Quincy has, such as flooding, boating activity and programming. We are looking to other communities who have successfully conquered those same challenges."
The riverfront plan spans from York Street and Quincy Park to Maine Street and Edgewater Park to Broadway Street and Clat Adams Bicentennial Park. The master plan is expected to have a 10-year implementation timeline that can be phased in gradually.
Committee members have said they want plan details to be financially sustainable, to be resilient to flooding, to make Quincy's riverfront a unique destination that connects with nearby parks and the District, and to be funded using a mix of public and private investments.
"It is not about taking specific elements from Louisville or Chattanooga and dropping those elements into Quincy," Roy said. "It is to get them (committee members) excited about possibilities. To use them (the elements) as idea generators and lessons that we can use and mold into what would be appropriate for Quincy."
Project Manager Cullan Duke, an employee with Klingner and Associates, agreed.
"These are all similar riverfronts who have common themes to Quincy, such as flooding, accessibility, connectivity, and we want to give examples of how these communities dealt with those things so that the public can begin to envision what we can do on Quincy's riverfront," Duke said.
Renderings from other cities presented were Crescent Park in New Orleans; Cumberland Park in Nashville, Tenn.; Smothers Park in Owensboro, Ky.; South Port Park in Dubuque, Iowa; Riverfront Park in St. Joseph, Mo.; Keeper of the Plains Park in Wichita, Kan.; Riverfront Park in Alton, Ill.; Waterfront Park, in Louisville, Ky.; and the riverfront in Hannibal, Mo.
Committee members say seeing examples from how other cities have combated flooding may help address lingering questions and concerns that some have about the project.
"We have already heard the questions of, ‘Why would we do anything when we know it's going to flood?' and ‘Why are we not doing something to change the riverfront?' " Roy said.
Roy, the other consultants, and committee members say they are planning a town hall-style forum in March.
"We want anybody and everybody to come to the town hall," Roy said. "They certainly don't have to be experts."
The consultants and the committee plan to host at least six town halls through the yearlong planning process, which officially began last month. The process is being split into three parts: discovery, conceptual design and design.
The committee consists of members of the Quincy City Council, Quincy Park District Commission, Adams County Board and members of the public.
The consultants also have been and will continue to meet one on one or in small groups with leaders from a variety of industries such as the city's hoteliers, restaurateurs and boat club members.
"The important message that we are sharing is that we are just starting this process," Roy said. Representatives also plan to attend large community events through the upcoming year to gain additional feedback.
"Most of all we want to listen and then collect the ideas we hear to make this riverfront development plan that works for Quincy," Roy said.