By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — After hearing concerns from residents about a proposed sports complex for St. Ambrose University, officials have made changes and are currently getting input on the latest version of the plan.
The current proposal was unveiled Jan. 6 to neighbors of St. Ambrose University, said Mike Poster, vice president for finance. A public meeting was held Jan. 21.
Poster said drop-in meetings were also held Jan. 30, Feb. 6 and Feb. 17. The next two are scheduled for Feb. 27 from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and March 3 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the Rogalski Center on campus. The drop-in meetings allow neighbors to see the plans, ask questions and share feedback.
During the Neighborhood Relations Council meeting in January, Poster said there was still some opposition, but having several experts on hand to explain their conclusions helped. Experts addressed noise, lighting, traffic, storm water and other concerns.
If neighbors have questions that can’t be answered immediately, the experts are following up. “We can’t alleviate all their concerns, but we are trying to work with the neighbors,” Poster said.
At least four different plans have been shown to neighbors, he said. The first three “were basically concepts that were used to discuss with the city and neighbors. Our current plan is the official plan.”
St. Ambrose bought the property (located several blocks outside the main campus) from the Diocese of Davenport in 2009; the first plan was released in 2010. The university developed a campus facilities master plan in 2010-11 and had the main campus plan approved in 2012. “We have been working on this plan (sports complex) since that time,” Poster said.
As a result of neighbors’ input, the amount of seating has been reduced in the current proposal for the main stadium. The last concept had seating for 5,000 people; the current proposal calls for a stadium that will hold 2,500 people. The stadium would sit entirely on St. Ambrose property north of West Central Park Avenue and east of Assumption High School’s parking lot and fields.
The current proposal has the mixed-use stadium for football and track to the east of the drive that leads to Assumption High School. North of the stadium would be a softball field and shot put area.
North of the Diocese of Davenport offices at St. Vincent Center would be a parking lot with 430 spaces and a pedestrian bridge to cross the creek between the lot and stadium. Traffic would enter and exit from the drive on the east side of the diocesan building. Farther east of the parking lot would be two soccer/multipurpose fields.
There would be no parking for stadium visitors on neighborhood streets, Poster noted. The entire project would be fenced in and entrances would be from select spots.
The new football and track stadium would be shared with Assumption High School. Poster reiterated the stadium is completely on St. Ambrose property.
A 90-day process to accept input began Jan. 6, the date the current proposal was revealed. If no major changes occur following the input process, the current proposal could be submitted to Davenport’s planning and zoning commission. From there, the proposal would go to the city council. The earliest a decision could be made is July, if everything moves forward as planned.
If the schedule holds, Poster said ground could be broken in the fall of 2014 for the two eastern soccer fields and a portion of the parking lot. Those fields, when completed, also would be used for football practice — but not football games.
The next step would be the track and field at the main stadium, possibly in 2016, with the press box and grandstand to follow. Some of the construction depends on fundraising, he said.
The property is identified as “institutional use property” in the city’s long range plan. Poster said since the property exceeds 40 acres, “we need to have a land use plan approved by the city before we can do anything on the site.”