Davenport approves St. Ambrose sports complex rezoning request

Originally Posted Online: July 09, 2014, 10:02 pm
Last Updated: July 09, 2014, 10:45 pm
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story
Related stories
By Stephen Elliott, selliott@qconline.com

DAVENPORT -- After nearly three hours of listening to a standing-room-only crowd of mostly opponents to a proposed $25 million St. Ambrose University sports complex, city council members voted 6-4 for the project.

Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba has 14 days to veto the action through a written message to the council, according to city staff. Aldermen then would have 30 days to attempt an override, requiring a two-thirds majority vote.

Mayor Gluba said he will make his position known next week.

Wednesday's vote -- the third and final consideration of the request -- followed the same voting lines as the first and second considerations.

In favor were Alds. Jason Gordon and Gene Meeker, both At-Large; Ald. Bill Edmond, 2nd Ward; William Boom, 3rd Ward; Jeff Justin, 6th Ward; and Kerri Tompkins, 8th Ward.

Opposed were Alds. Rick Dunn, 1st Ward; Ray Ambrose, 4th Ward; Barney Barnhill, 5th Ward; and Mike Matson, 7th Ward.

At the start of Wednesday's public comments, Bettendorf attorney Mike Meloy said he was representing Davenport residents opposed to the complex. He cited concerns of declining property values as well as storm water and sewer problems.

He was followed by 62 more people; all but eight opposed the project.

St. Ambrose wants to rezone 31 acres of 45 acres at 800 W. Central Park Ave., the former St. Vincent's Center property, for a sports complex that would include a 2,500-seat football stadium, a 500-space parking lot, a soccer field, a softball diamond and other athletic fields.

Along with storm water, sewer and property value concerns, neighbors on Wednesday expressed concerns about traffic, crime, noise, tailgating and a growth in rental properties if the rezoning request was approved.

St. Ambrose University President Sister Joan Lescinski CSJ (Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph), also spoke during the public comment session. She said the project is "essential" to the future of the university and nearby Assumption High School, which will share the sports complex.

"The facilities we are proposing will put us on an equal footing with schools we are competing against," she said. "Simply stated, this complex is essential as we look to the future of St. Ambrose and its vitality.

"St. Ambrose University is fortunate to be located in Davenport where we have thrived for more than 130 years," she said. "We are neighbors, too, and we are committed to working together with all of our neighbors to make our community the best that it can be."

Ald. Matson initially tried to table the request for further discussion, but his effort was turned down by a 6-4 vote. Ald. Matson said he had concerns the proposed stadium's size would not meet the football needs of St. Ambrose or Assumption.

Mike Poster, vice president for finance at SAU, said the university thinks it will be an adequate size, and the Brady Street Stadium still can be used, if needed, for Assumption-Bettendorf football games.

"Augustana has a 2,600-seat stadium, and it suits them just fine," Mr. Poster said afterward. "Rock Island Alleman plays there. They're a little bit bigger than Assumption."

Mr. Poster said SAU hopes to break ground in 2015. The university still has some fundraising to do, and the final designs must be approved by the city.

"We hopefully will be playing football games as early as the fall of 2017 or 2018," Mr. Poster said. "That's to be determined."

Neighbors of the site, such as Vern Murdoch, told aldermen that Davenport residents had come to the council "for your help."

"Now is not the time for blind allegiance to an institution," he said.

Others, such as Jim Dexter, urged St. Ambrose to do the project right at another site.

"It's not good where it is," he said. "Keep this out of the neighborhoods."

Also on Wednesday:

-- The council approved a resolution establishing a River 80 Tax Increment Financing District in the Interstate 74/53rd Street Urban Renewal Area. The TIF district will let the city help with the repayment of financing for the proposed extension of Elmore Avenue. The source of the River 80 TIF fund would be incremental property taxes totaling up to $11 million over the 15-year life of the TIF, according to the city.

-- The council approved an economic development agreement to assist Raufeisen Development for The Dock at Davenport project. Mr. Raufeisen plans to construct a $12 million, 40,000-square-foot commercial building at 125 Perry St. The city will provide economic assistance by rebating property taxes totaling up to $3.6 million over a 15-year period.

Related Stories


Local events heading

  Today is Tuesday, Oct. 21, the 294th day of 2014. There are 71 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The weather is discouraging for our great Democratic rally tomorrow, but never mind that. Let our Rock Island people show they can make a big procession themselves, rain or shine.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Apparatus arrived for drilling an artesian well on the premises of George Warner's Atlantic Brewery.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The German army continued its attacks on the allies line near the Belgian coast.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The farm home of Mr. and Mrs. Gus Zachert northwest of Buffalo Prairie, burned to the ground.
1964 -- 50 years ago: WVIK-FM, noncommercial educational radio station at Augustana College, will return to the air tomorrow. The station operates at a power of 10 watts at 90.9 megacycles on the frequency modulation band. The station is operated with a staff of 92 students.
1989 -- 25 years ago: An avenue of lights, 13 Christmas trees strung with more than 44,000 sparkling lights, will expand the Festival of Trees beyond the walls of RiverCenter in downtown Davenport in mid-November.

(More History)