From the beginning of dialogue about the future of the former Argosy casino riverfront site, we have advocated in this space for a public, patient, creative approach to what we believe is a milestone moment in community history. Our city must, we have said, get this right because our riverfront, a natural treasure rivaling anything we have seen anywhere else, impacts quality of life and, in turn, economic growth in significant fashion. Its proper protection and cultivation today and for tomorrow is essential to our future.
To these ends, we remain encouraged by the openness, pace and overall course of the discussion.
The most recent public riverfront meeting with city consultant SmithGroup JJR Inc. of Madison, Wis., on Nov. 30, included conversation about a new proposed amenity, called Exploration Ridge. The area would include a path at the top created by a berm as well as art, play and exercise elements. Past public meetings produced a variety of proposals, including a Ferris wheel, pedestrian bridge across the Missouri River, riverfront boardwalk, fishing pier, shade pavilion, and monument garden, within three design categories: passive, active recreation and entertainment.
Our vision for this area embraces aesthetic enhancements, such as creation of green space, and includes expansion of recreation and relaxation opportunities. Within these parameters and within reasonable costs, we remain open-minded to a variety of suggested ideas for amenities (short of commercial development). We have advocated for moving popular festivals, such as Mardi Gras and ArtSplash, back to the riverfront, finishing the riverfront trail all the way to Chautauqua Park and making the site the permanent home of the Sioux City Farmers Market.
As this process moves forward to what we hope is the start of an initial phase of work at the old Argosy site when the Interstate 29 reconstruction project ends, likely in 2020, we advocate the city:
*Remain engaged with citizens by holding public meetings for input on ideas.
*Dream big, be bold. As a community, we may never get another opportunity quite like this one. Why not, for example, at least talk about a Ferris wheel? It isn't beyond the reach of our imagination to picture this attraction as a popular, if not iconic centerpiece of a riverfront teeming with a variety of leisure activities for all ages.
*Allow room within the final master plan for the addition of amenities later. Due to costs, it might be advisable to build the riverfront park in multiple phases over time.
Again today, we commend the city on riverfront progress to this point and we look forward to more study, more public feedback and, ultimately, a formal recommendation to the City Council.