Return to Nicholas Johnson's Main Web Site

Return to Nicholas Johnson's Coralville Rain Forest Web Site

Envision Focuses on Port Project

Citizens Given Crash Course in 2nd Phase of America's River

Rob Kundert

Dubuque Telegraph Herald

May 5, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.]

A dozen Dubuque residents interested in the future of the Port of Dubuque received a Cliff Notes version of riverfront development Thursday night.

The second phase of America's River was among the top 10 Envision projects that residents want to see completed in the next five years.

Kevin Eipperle, managing principal at Durrant Group, is facilitating the efforts of the committee working on the second phase.

"This mixed group of folks was passionate about making things happen down here, but some had a lot more information than others," he said. "So we needed to bring everybody to that same baseline of knowledge."

Laura Carstens, Dubuque's planning service manager, met the committee in the small theater at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium.

She gave the group a crash course in the city's Port of Dubuque Master Plan and Design Standard adopted several years ago to help guide development.

The plan calls for a mix of uses.

"Everything from offices, entertainment, commercial, residential," Carstens said.

The discussion touched on the marquee developments like the river museum, hotel and conference center.

Carstens also talked about the work to revitalize the historic Dubuque Shot Tower, plans for transient boat slips in the Ice Harbor and work on the former Star Brewery.

"I think it was a vital meeting moving forward with this group," Eipperle said after the meeting.

It was the kind of information that answered some questions and lead to others. Parking lots and buildings versus green space, for instance.

"One thing we didn't talk about is the city is planning to construct an intermodal facility," said Eipperle, which could handle not only cars, but trolley, buses and maybe even trains.

"So that less of the land is taken up by asphalt parking lot," he said.

Space is a premium. It's only 120 acres, with a good portion already taken. What will be the best use of the remainder?

"How it's all going to fit. You want to have tourism and make places profitable, but you also want to have places for everybody to go," said committee member Robin Kennicker.

"It's a real balance, especially when you are trying to attract developers," Eipperle said. "They want to maximize their return on investment. But they also know that some green space will make the values go up and make it more attractive."

Next up for the committee, a meeting with officials of the Dubuque County Historical Society about its plans to expand the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.

The Historical Society has a grand vision of what may happen there, Eipperle said.

"But it needs to balance with some of the other development that night occur."