Thursday, March 27, 2014

In mid-March a group of URP graduate students held an Open House forum for Muscatine, Iowa residents to voice their opinions about plans for redeveloping Muscatine’s riverfront. Approximately 40 Muscatine residents came and gave feedback about the three plans the students presented. Attending news reporters spoke about the passion reflected by URP students despite not living in Muscatine. The students included Xiaodan Chen, Heather Milway, Adnya Sarasmita, Caitlin Shanahan, and Xiaomei Xu. The project is one of 13 that are taking place in the city as part of the University of Iowa’s Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities

The public was invited to view the design plans and to leave their comments for improvements of Riverside Park. The design options were based on a survey the students conducted between November and January and included educating the citizens about each option.  One student also was there to gauge the public’s level of excitement for each plan and to see if they would be willing to be donate time to be involved in doing some planting or donating funds.

The students formulated three separate plans:

The Arts & Industry Riverfront, which focused on the expansion of arts and entertainment facilities and using locally produced building materials in creating the improvements. Some of the improvements in this plan included an updated musical performance area and a sculpture area. The design includes grass on the steps for water infiltration as well as water in other areas for children to play in.

The Fitness Riverfront plan recommended expanding recreational and outdoors activities. Features included expanded walkways and trails and an improved sports activity area as part of a Blue Zone community option. There could be a place for rental equipment of snowshoes, kayaks, etc.  The farmer’s market was a popular choice among the citizens.

The Working Ecosystem Riverfront plan concentrated on the use of natural plant species and landscape elements to create an environmentally sound riverfront area. Some of the components of this plan included a raised walking area through natural wetlands and a sunken amphitheater not using above-ground structures. Another idea behind this plan was to make it low maintenance and to give residents direct access to the water to view water activities such as boat shows.

Ultimately, the group will incorporate the input and create a final proposal, which will likely include items from all three concepts. The final proposed plan will include recommendations for grant funding and other funding sources, and be presented to the Muscatine City Council in May.

A short video of the news story created by Channel 4 news in Rock Island (WHBF TV) is available on their website.