Davenport alderman says business owners recovering from flooding knew the risks when setting up shop

DAVENPORT-- The river is back in its banks, but the fight over flood waters is far from over in Davenport.

Downtown business leaders are ramping up their criticism of the city and how it handled flood protection and how it's not handling flood recovery. Now the city has a message for those business owners that they have now agreed to deliver face-to-face to repair that breach in Davenport's relationship with it's downtown merchants.

This all comes after a series of open letters first from City Administrator Corri Spiegel, then from the Chamber of Commerce, and now from a group of downtown business owners. One alderman says it's time to stop the letters and actually sit down and talk.

"I feel terrible the individuals don't feel that sense of support from the city," says Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch.

It's been one day since an open letter was sent out by downtown business owners. Now city leaders have had time to take it all in.

"I want to be very clear, businesses in our community are extremely important," says Klipsch.

Mayor Klipsch read the letter signed by 36 people asking for transparency and reassurance the city will work to protect downtown businesses from future floods.

Alderman Ray Ambrose read the letter too. He says it's not the city's responsibility to protect businesses and that flooding is what business owners signed up for.

"It's unfortunate people bought the properties or invested in these properties. A little due research shows there's risk involved... There's a famous saying called buyer beware," says Ambrose.

The letter was also read by Alderman Kyle Gripp.

"I totally understand where our business owners downtown are coming from," says Gripp.

He thinks it's the city's job to keep businesses dry, and he says he will fight to make sure going forward, business owners have a say in future flood fighting plans starting with the Mayor's Flood Task Force.

"I would advocate to the Mayor, and I will, that absolutely, downtown businesses should have a seat at the table," says Gripp.

In their letter, business owners say they want to pick two members for that task force. And while he says he's open to suggestions, Mayor Klipsch says it's ultimately his decision.

"Typically it doesn't work where they tell us who's on it. But they give us a list of people," says Klipsch.

Decision makers say they're ready to listen. Now they're asking for trust.

"We're still committed to them, and we want them to have faith in us. And I know right now in this time of trouble, that's difficult. But have faith in us," says Klipsch.

Downtown business leaders also gave the city a deadline. They want to know how they will be protected from flooding going forward, and they want the plan in writing by August 1, 2019.

Alderman Gripp says that date may be unrealistic since a lot has to happen first. But he says he will do what he can to move the process along now that the water has gone down.

The Mayor hopes to have his task force assembled in two weeks.

The meeting with City Administrator Corri Spiegel, the Mayor, alderman and downtown business owners is scheduled for Friday, June 21, 2019.

 

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