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Ferris wheel? Fountains? Riverfront 'icon' inclusion to depend on fundraising

SIOUX CITY | Adding an "icon" to the city's planned riverfront development, such as a Ferris wheel, could cost around $2.7 million, according to estimates provided to the Sioux City Council ahead of Monday's vote on the project's schematic design.

But to make such a feature a reality, city staff say private donations and grants will be required to fund it, rather than taxpayer dollars.


"Whether it's a Ferris wheel or something else, it will be totally dependent on fundraising efforts," city parks and recreation director Matt Salvatore said.

Firm pitches $14.5M Sioux City riverfront design plan

SIOUX CITY -- Sioux City's Riverfront Development would include a variety of open green spaces, shelters, overlooks and other interactive features, according to a final schematic design pitched to City Council members Monday. 

The $2.7 million estimate, which is based on the potential cost for a Ferris wheel, is among $8 million in amenities proposed for the park. Other amenities include open green spaces, shelters, overlooks and other interactive features.

The overall price tag could be up to $14.5 million counting base construction costs.  

Salvatore said the current cost estimate for an icon should be considered a tentative "placeholder" as city staff and the riverfront project's steering committee discuss what feature to move forward with. 

"We're going through an exercise right now where we're evaluating the Ferris wheel versus a couple different options," he said. 

SmithGroup JJR presented its schematic design proposal during last week's City Council meeting. The council then deferred a vote on it for a week, which gave council members time to analyze the item-by-item cost of the proposed amenities. 

Photos: Riverfront development schematic design

During his presentation, landscape architect Tom Rogers offered a pair of alternate suggestions for the icon feature, which he said were a result of a company-wide design contest. 

The first was a series of tall half-arches that could serve as a fountain. 

"(It's) creating a vertical element, 40 to 50 feet tall, that you can see from the highway that forms an interesting canopy that you can interact with," he told the council. "They can be lit up at night." 


Titled "Iconic Iowa," this concept for an "icon" along the Sioux City riverfront that could potentially replace a proposed Ferris wheel includes four half-arch fountain structures that would be visible from the interstate and symbolize the meeting of land and water. 

The second was a series of large geometric towers that would light up in several colors. 

"What we really liked about this concept was that this could be something interactive, this could be something that you could control with your phone," Rogers said. "You could go on your phone and say there’s 20 choices of what the lights could be, and you could punch one in and they could be the blue lights that day or they could be a seasonal light."

Rogers added that the design for the park would work with or without an icon, and an icon could be added as a future phase later on.


This "River Lights" concept for an "icon" along the Sioux City riverfront, which could replace the proposed Ferris wheel, is loosely based on the layout of the former Sioux City stockyards. It would include interactive light displays visible from the interstate, and users would be able to control the colors that appear on the towers using their phone. 

Salvatore said he thinks the firm's ideas are unique and have potential. 

The project's overall price tag includes $6.5 million in base costs, which include demolition, excavation, earthwork, streets, parking, walkways, water, lighting and site furniture. The remaining $8 million include a series of amenities that could be phased in as the city raises enough funding.

Aside from the proposed "icon," the highest-cost items include river overlooks priced at $700,000, $600,000 and $450,000, as well as a $700,000 pavilion, a $450,000 water feature, $450,000 activity nodes and a $400,000 "stockyard garden."

"There could be a phased approach to the project," Salvatore said. "We might not be able to (build) everything at once." 

If the schematic design passes Monday, staff will begin working on a consulting services agreement for the design of the project and eventually kick off a fundraising campaign. The city has budgeted $400,000 for the design phase in the upcoming budget year. 

The riverfront project likely will not begin until 2020, after the Interstate 29 reconstruction is complete. 

The city has tentatively placed a total of $8 million in city funding for the riverfront project into its capital improvements program plan over the next three years, although those amounts will be refined as the city undertakes its budgeting process in future years. The only amount that has been fully approved is the $400,000 for next year's design.


Design firm SmithGroup JJR unveiled a series of proposed "icon" concepts for the Sioux City riverfront development in late March. The alternatives to a Ferris wheel were the result of a company-wide design contest. 

Salvatore said once the city approves the design, organizers will begin exploring several alternate funding sources for the park, including grants, private donations and charitable contributions. The city has already identified a handful of state grants it could pursue for the project. 

YMCA demolition

In other action Monday, the council will vote on an agreement with the owner of the former YMCA building that would remove the order for the building's demolition if the owner corrects the deficiencies at the red-tagged structure within a year's time.

The council last week approved a 90-day stay of demolition on the property, which had been set for demolition in early December. City documents say Residential Equity Partners LLC, the Concord, California-based entity that owns the property, has secured financing to rehabilitate the building. But the financing is subject to removal of the order for demolition. 

Under the agreement, the owner would make all necessary repairs within one year starting Monday and provide a cashier's check or surety bond for $70,000.

Click here to read Monday's council agenda

Sioux City children spend part of spring break under the sea

SIOUX CITY -- With a glittery sequined cardboard front and an equally sparkly cardboard back, Madelyn Andersen, 7, happened to be playing one fashion-forward seahorse.

Unfortunately, she can't seem to keep her googly eyes glued to the cardboard. 

"I lost my eyes again," Madelyn said, searching the floor of LaunchPAD Children's Museum during a last-minute dress rehearsal. "For some reason, I can't find my eyes."

Madelyn was one of the kid actors putting on a show, Friday, as part of LaunchPAD's Silly Sea Creature Spring Break Camp.

"The children, age 5-8, are building a set, creating costumes and learning the script that I wrote for them," LaunchPAD outreach educator Jeremy Bartelt said. "It's a pretty tall order since our camp began at 10 a.m. (Friday morning) and will end at 3 p.m. (Friday) afternoon." 

That's when parents and other family members were able to be part of the audience for a show revolving around mysterious creatures of the sea.

Bartelt conceived the spring break camp as a way to combine the fun aspect of live theater with the exploration of STEM subjects.

The children learn about science by studying fun facts about various sea creatures; technology by working with an interactive video screen; engineering by creating imaginative costuming; and mathematics by counting the eight tentacles on James Welch's octopus costume.

"No, don't call them tentacles," James, 7, said as he put on an octopus costume made out of foam swimming pool noodles. "The eight limbs of an octopus are actually called arms." 

Interesting, we didn't know that.

Bartelt can't help but smile at his energetic theater troupe-for-the-day.

A former music production and technical educator, he mainly worked with high school students before coming to LaunchPAD in December 2017.

"I'm still learning to simplify things while working with kids with different reading skills and shorter attention spans," Bartelt said.

Easton Boetcher doesn't mind having a short attention span. In fact, it probably helps him to interpret his role.

"I play an electric eel," the 7-year-old said. "I like playing one because an electric eel shoots out electricity in order to defend himself."

So, what else can Easton tell us about an electric eel?

"An electric eel isn't really an eel," Easton said, adjusting the construction paper stingers on his arms. "He's actually a fish."

A shark is also a type of fish, according to Cadence Sexton, who portrayed one in the show.

"I like playing a shark because I get to put a fin on my head," the 5-year-old said as a cardboard fin is fitted on her head.

At least, Cadence's costume isn't as cumbersome as seahorse portrayer Madelyn Andersen's.

"I found the seahorse's eyes but now the front of the costume keeps falling off," she said. "I didn't know being a seahorse would be so much work."

Monday’s Briefing

Rock Hall to get $4.1M sponsorship

CLEVELAND — The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame says it will receive $4.1 million over five years to help expand its youth education programs and community activities.

The Rock Hall announced this week that PNC Bank has pledged $3.75 million to support various programming such as free events and live music. The PNC Foundation pledged another $375,000 to help underwrite the youth education program Toddler Rock.

The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reports the Rock Hall also is partnering with others to bring a music festival to downtown Cleveland this summer.

The inaugural InCuya festival on Aug. 25 and 26 will be presented by concert promoter AEG Presents in partnership with the Rock Hall, the city of Cleveland and Destination Cleveland.

The cross-genre and multigenerational festival will feature national and local musicians.

Gator found in Florida backyard pool

SARASOTA, Fla. — Florida homeowners beware: one big gator has been found splashing in a backyard swimming pool and it took a trapper to drag it away.

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office posted images of the floating gator late Friday on Twitter, saying it measured 11 feet (3 meters) long.

With temperatures warming, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission warns that the state's estimated 1.3 million gators are becoming more active — and should be treated with "caution and respect." There've been at least two other gator sightings in yards recently, one mistaken for a burglar.

Injuries from alligators are rare, but the commission urges swimming only in designated areas of rivers and lakes.

As for backyard swimming pools, it makes no mention. But for some homeowners, that too is "swim at your own risk."

-- Associated Press

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

Kelley (far left)

Trump on deal for 'Dreamer' immigrants: 'NO MORE'

PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump on Sunday declared "NO MORE" to a deal to help "Dreamer" immigrants and threatened to pull out of a free trade agreement with Mexico unless it does more to stop people from crossing into the U.S. He claimed they're coming to take advantage of protections granted certain immigrants.

"NO MORE DACA DEAL!" Trump tweeted one hour after he began the day by wishing his followers a "HAPPY EASTER!"

He said Mexico must "stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA. NEED WALL!" The U.S., Canada and Mexico are participating in tense negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement at Trump's insistence. Trump says NAFTA is bad for the U.S.

"Mexico has got to help us at the border," Trump, holding his wife's hand, told reporters before the couple attended Easter services at an Episcopal church near his Palm Beach, Florida, home. "If they're not going to help us at the border, it's a very sad thing between our two countries."

"A lot of people are coming in because they want to take advantage of DACA," he added.

Former President Barack Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to provide temporary protection and work permits to hundreds of thousands of immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally after being brought here as children. Trump ended the program last year, but gave Congress six months to pass legislation enshrining it. A deal has so far proved elusive and Trump has blamed Democrats.

It was not immediately clear what Trump was referring to when he said people are coming to take advantage of the program.

The Department of Homeland Security is not issuing new permits, although existing ones can be renewed. The Obama administration allowed sign-ups during a set period of time, and the program is closed to new entrants.

Proposed DACA deals crafted by lawmakers and rejected by Trump also were not open to new participants.

Trump did not explain what he meant when questioned by reporters as he entered the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea with the first lady and his daughter Tiffany. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.

Trump, when addressing reporters briefly before entering the church, again blamed Democrats for failing to protect the "Dreamers."

"They had a great chance. The Democrats blew it. They had a great, great chance, but we'll have to take a look because Mexico has got to help us at the border. They flow right through Mexico. They send them into the United States. It can't happen that way anymore."

Trump promised during the 2016 presidential campaign to build a southern border wall to stop illegal immigration and drugs from Mexico, but Congress has frustrated him by not moving as quickly as he wants to provide money for construction.

The president also complained on Twitter that border patrol agents can't do their jobs properly because of "ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws" that allow people caught for being in the country illegally to be released while they await a hearing before a federal immigration judge.

Trump tweeted that the situation is "Getting more dangerous" and "Caravans" are coming. He did not offer details to back his comment.

The president's tweets came after Fox News' "Fox & Friends" reported early Sunday on what it said is a group of 1,200 immigrants, mostly from Honduras, headed to the U.S. The segment was a follow-up to a report by Buzzfeed News on hundreds of Central Americans making their way through Mexico in hopes that American authorities will grant them asylum or be absent when they attempt to cross the border.

The Fox headline was "Caravan of illegal immigrants headed to U.S." The president is known to watch the cable TV program in the morning.

Brandon Judd, leader of the union representing border patrol agents, predicted on "Fox & Friends" that those in the caravan would create havoc and chaos in the U.S. as they wait for what he described as immigration reform. Judd also said Congress needs to pass tougher laws, an idea Trump appeared to echo, and create more bed space for immigration authorities to house people.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, chided Trump over the tone of the tweets.

"A true leader preserves & offers hope, doesn't take hope from innocent children who call America home. Remember, today is Easter Sunday," tweeted Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Trump critic who challenged him for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, another Trump foe, urged Congress to take up the fight for Dreamers.

"There are plenty of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who stand ready to work with the administration on legislation to protect DACA kids who call America home," he tweeted. "Let's do it."

Sunday's church visit was Trump's first public appearance with his wife since CBS's "60 Minutes" aired an interview the previous Sunday with Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who says she had sex with Trump in 2006, early in his marriage and a few months after the Mrs. Trump had given birth to their son. The White House says Trump denies the affair. Mrs. Trump spent most of the past week in Palm Beach with her son.

The Trumps returned to Washington later Sunday.