By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — A final decision on whether a proposed sports complex for St. Ambrose University can move forward is expected May 20.
On May 6 more than 400 people attended a public hearing of the City of Davenport’s Planning and Zoning Commission on a Planned Institutional Development (PID) for property at St. Vincent Center Complex, which St. Ambrose owns.
After city staff made its presentation, each side had 25 minutes for opening statements, followed by opening the floor to the public for two minutes per person, then a five-minute closing for both supporting and opposing sides.
The petitioner, St. Ambrose, was given the floor first. University representatives addressed the need for the facility for sports programs and as a recruitment tool, studies showing that the sports complex would meet or exceed city requirements, an explanation of changes made to the proposal to address some concerns of opponents, and how the project would enhance the neighborhood’s vitality.
The commission questioned university representatives about issues such as tailgating, use of the track by neighbors/families, and storm water storage and release.
Public comments from supporters addressed the relationship of St. Ambrose with the community as a whole, the inconvenience of multiple playing and practice sites for St. Ambrose and Assumption High School, and the future.
The opposition, including members of the Neighborhood Relations Council, neighbors and others, focused their presentation on several issues: the PID plan shrinking from 42 acres to 30-plus acres, vehicle traffic on West Central Park Avenue, and water and sewer problems in the neighborhood near the proposed complex.
Public comments from opponents addressed parking, lighting, safety, traffic, crime, property values and possible legal issues. Many stated they are not against a home sports complex for the university — just the location. They asked whether St. Ambrose’s future growth might cause it to outgrow its new facility even before it moves in.
Commissioners asked St. Ambrose representatives if the proposal was an all-or-nothing plan. Mike Poster, vice president for finance, said “this is our plan right now. There is no plan B.”
A commissioner asked opponents whether they thought St. Ambrose students are criminals and drunks. “No” the opponents replied adamantly. The commissioner asked the question because one presentation suggested increased crime in the neighborhood on games days.
One commissioner questioned the smaller PID and asked city staff to explain why sewer problems have not been addressed and why no work is planned until 2016 to address an issue that has plagued the neighborhood for years.
After closing statements by both sides, the commission closed the meeting. Commissioners will meet again May 20 to discuss the petition.