The Quad Cities' newest park was unveiled today.
The city of Davenport officially opened River Heritage Park on Friday, October 11th, 2013. The park sits on seven acres right off River Drive, just east of the Government Bridge.
"This site will become the must-see place on National Historic Places," says Karl Rhomberg, Commissioner of the Levee Improvement Commission.
Rhomberg and others say the spot says a lot about Davenport and the nation's history. Among other things, it's where the Black Hawk Treaty of 1832 was signed and it sits right next to the first bridge to ever span the Mississippi River.
"This is a site we just had to preserve," says Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba.
Rhomberg agrees. He says the park was around 25 years in the making.
"We had to negotiate with Builder Sand and Gravel and then with River Gulf Grain to get them off of this site," he tells News 8. "It is difficult to relocate any business, but they were very cooperative and relocated their businesses in Davenport so we're here now celebrating this reinvestment in public land."
Right now, the park includes a pavilion paid for by the Davenport Rotary Club. It also includes a safety fence that mirrors the shape of the Government Bridge.
Phase II of the park will use a $300,000 grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources R.E.A.P Program to finish the fence as well as put in a promenade, benches, lighting, and more.
This week has been a major one for Davenport and its riverfront. On Wednesday, City Council voted unanimously to pass a preliminary lease agreement and economic development agreement for the old "Dock" restaurant, with construction expected to start in Spring 2014. On Thursday, developer Dan Kehl told the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission he is 99% ready to buy Rhythm City Casino and begin the process of moving casino life off the river and onto land.
"We're finally going to get the ugly eyesore - Rhythm City - off of our beautiful riverfront," Mayor Gluba told News 8 at the park opening.
"Davenport is known throughout the nation as having one of the largest riverfronts in public ownership anywhere in the country," says Karl.
Mayor Gluba says the city owns 9 miles of riverfront. He sees a Chicago-like Navy Pier going where the riverboat is now, a restaurant in place of the "Dock" building, and the park as a place where people can play and learn about the city's history.
"It's just what cities need to do to keep quality of life in their area and I think this is just one more step."