SIOUX CITY | The middle of Sioux City's riverfront development could include an eye-catching ridge area with nearby play structures, art, event space and other elements, under new plans shared with the public Thursday evening.
Opinions still remain mixed on whether to include a Ferris wheel at the park, another proposed element of the project.
More than 50 community members weighed in on these and other ideas floated by a design firm during a public input session Thursday evening at City Hall. The meeting was the latest step in the years-long planning process to bring an attractive new park to the former site of the Argosy riverboat casino.
Tom Rodgers with SmithGroup JJR Inc., the group under contract with the city for schematic design services, laid out the newest ideas for the park, which the city hopes to develop once Interstate 29 work concludes in 2020.
Rogers recapped plans for a wealth of amenities including an interactive fountain, sport courts, overlooks, a dog park, a yoga lawn, restrooms, parking for 75 vehicles, and other amenities, including a potential fishing pier.
A new concept shared includes "Exploration Ridge," an topographical ridge-like area with a path along the top that would be created by a berm line. The surrounding area would include play, art and exercise elements. Event space nearby would include enough space for events for as many as 4,000 people, he said.
Located in the central portion of the park between Virginia Street and Floyd Boulevard, Rogers said the topographic ridge would double as a separator from the bustle of the interstate and would provide an eye-catching feature paired with the proposed Ferris wheel.
"We want to create a buffer from the highway," he said. "You want to be connected to the river."
The ridge element received positive reviews from the public, but reviews were mixed on another large-scale element of the park, the proposed Ferris wheel.
Councilwoman Rhonda Capron, among a handful who weighed in on the topic, said she doesn't want the city to be responsible for buying it and that she's hesitant about the liability involved.
"I'm not real crazy about the Ferris wheel," Capron said. "It's going to be a million bucks, probably."
Community member Chris Jackson said he believes the park needs a large attraction, such as a Ferris wheel, to attract people to the location, which he described as an "island" caught between the river and the interstate.
Jackson further added he wanted to see the park connected to the states across the river through a pedestrian bridge.
"The Ferris wheel, although it's not the most amazing thing or the best maybe, it's something that would (attract people)," Jackson said. "And I think that those additional ways to get to that area are just as important as that area."
A pedestrian bridge stretching into South Sioux City has been an idea for the park shared in the past, although the price tag would be high. Rogers said it is not included in the current scope of the contract, but current park designs would allow for its addition later.
Other public concerns included making the streets leading into the park friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists and where people attending would park during large events.
Input from Thursday's meeting will inform future designs for the project. Parks and Recreation Director Matt Salvatore said he anticipates the Sioux City Council will receive a new update on the design plans in late January or early February.
"After tonight we are going to be going back to the drawing board with the input that was received from the steering committee and that we receive tonight," Salvatore said.
The city entered its $124,500 schematic design agreement with SmithGroup JJR in June. It set a working budget of about $12 million for the development. A steering committee is also seeking grants to help fund the park.