We urge the City Council on Monday to accept the proposed final design for the former Argosy casino riverfront site.
A vote for acceptance should reflect council support for the overall look and feel of the plan, but allow for changes or adjustments.
Elements of the plan include: A Fountain Plaza, an Exploration Ridge, scenic overlooks, a Great Lawn of green space, a Stockyard Gardens, a South Bottoms Memorial, space for an "iconic experience" such as a Ferris wheel, a dog park, rentable shelters, parking spaces for 75 cars, and more.
We give the plan, presented by consultant SmithGroup JJR Inc. of Madison, Wisconsin, to the council on Monday, a thumbs up because it checks most of the boxes we wanted checked. The plan:
- Resulted from a patient, public process begun 2 1/2 years ago.
- Reflects bold, creative vision.
- Includes aesthetic enhancements, such as creation of green space.
- Expands opportunities for recreation and relaxation.
- Includes space for the aforementioned centerpiece. We believe inclusion of a high-profile signature element strengthens the plan; at this point, we are open-minded to, but not entirely sold on the idea of a Ferris wheel.
- Ties in to our community's growing network of trails.
- Includes no commercial development.
We understand the $14.5 million pricetag for the plan may give pause to some local residents. We offer three thoughts on cost: 1) The city doesn't have to build everything in the plan. 2) Like Cone Park, the city doesn't have to build everything at once; amenities can be added over time. 3) Some of the cost can and should be met through other sources, such as grants, state contributions and private donations. Matt Salvatore, the city's parks and recreation director, told The Journal on Friday, for example, staff proposes money for a Ferris wheel (if the council opts for a Ferris wheel) come from alternative sources.
In our riverfront, we are blessed with a natural treasure. Its proper protection and cultivation is an essential ingredient to local quality of life and, in turn, community growth and prosperity.
From the beginning, we have said the city needs to get this right.
In our view, the plan presented on Monday does.