By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
(On July 9, Mayor Bill Gluba vetoed the Davenport City Council’s decision to approve St. Ambrose University’s rezoning request. The veto came after The Catholic Messenger’s deadline. The Davenport City Council will have an opportunity to override the veto with a two-thirds vote.)
DAVENPORT — After a failed attempt to table a decision regarding a proposed sports complex for St. Ambrose University, the Davenport City Council approved the university’s rezoning request in a 6-4 vote. What could be the final vote was taken July 9.
St. Ambrose wants to build a sports complex that it would share with Assumption High School on property the university owns next to Assumption and adjacent to Diocese of Davenport offices. That area is called St. Vincent Center property, and the university owns it.
Earlier this year the university went before the Planning and Zoning commission at a public hearing to request rezoning about 31 of 40 acres from R-4 residential to Planned Institutional District (PID). R-4 is a moderate density dwelling, which includes single-family detached and duplex homes.
After Planning and Zoning voted in favor of the request it went to the Davenport City Council. Another public hearing was held June 4. Further meetings and readings of the ordinance were held, all with opportunities for supporters and opponents to be heard.
The majority of people who spoke were neighbors to the property opposing the sports complex that would include a football stadium with track, two soccer/ lacrosse fields and parking.
Opponents continued to address traffic concerns, pedestrian safety, sewer and water issues that have plagued the neighborhood, the possible conversion of West Central Park Avenue from four lanes (two lanes in each direction) to three lanes (one lane in each direction with a center turn lane), the effect on property values and more. Many said they agree that St. Ambrose could use a stadium —just not at that location.
Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, president of St. Ambrose, said development of the St. Vincent Center property is “essential to the future of St. Ambrose and Assumption.”
PJ Foley, director of government and community relations at St. Ambrose, showed a video of the flooding on Locust Street in front of the main campus and the university’s Cosgrove Hall from the 1990s. Due to collaborative efforts of the university, City of Davenport and State of Iowa, the flooding issues have been resolved with underground tank storage and other measures to alleviate flooding.
“The city has issues. We have solutions,” Foley said. “We want to help solve this problem (of flooding in the area north and east of the proposed sports complex).”
Following two hours of comments by both sides, the city council amended the ordinance to add three more conditions to the complex for a total of 23 conditions. The conditions are listed at the end of this article.
Alderman Mike Matson proposed at the July 9 meeting that the city council table a decision and establish a task force to formally explore alternative stadium sites. Alderman Jason Gordon said the city council needed to vote based on the merits of the application submitted for the re-zoning.
Several aldermen shared their disapproval of St. Ambrose’s decision to reduce total acreage for the project to 31 acres and to not include the entire acreage in the final application. The aldermen noted that during talks prior to this year, the PID always included all 40+ acres.
After several other comments, Alderman Matsen made a motion to table. The vote was 6-4 against.
Mayor Bill Gluba then called for the vote regarding the re-zoning. The council voted in favor of re-zoning 6-4, consistent with the past two votes.
Mike Poster, St. Ambrose’s vice president for finance, said, “We are pleased that the City Council voted to approve the St. Vincent’s Center re-zoning request. After four years of study, planning, and discussion, we can now move forward with developing our property and creating a top-notch athletic complex. We will work hard to continue to be a good neighbor and community partner.”
Before work can begin, St. Ambrose must provide designs and go before the city council with them.
“Exactly when the university will begin work on the site is yet to be determined. Phase one will likely include the two practice fields and parking. We hope that these might be completed by the start of fall classes in 2015. Construction of the stadium may begin in 2016, and would be built in phases. Completion will be based on final fundraising,” Poster said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Gluba has two weeks from the July 9 meeting to possibly overrule the city council’s vote. The mayor was expected to give a statement on his decision after The Catholic Messenger deadline.
The City Plan and Zoning Commission recommends that Case No. REZ14-04 be approved subject to the following conditions.
- the submitted Land Use Plan, Narrative of Intent, and all related building renderings, studies, and other required documents (the submitted application in its entirety) shall control the future land use and development of the legally described property “PID – Campus” Planned Institutional District except as here amended by specific conditions;
- as required by City Emergency Departments, the petitioner shall obtain an easement with the adjacent property owner to the west of the site to allow for adequate emergency access to the site;
- the bridge connecting the stadium to the main parking lot west of the soccer fields shall be accessible to an emergency vehicle weighing up to 20,000 pounds;
- SAU shall create a tree preservation plan with the City Forestry Division; said plan shall be approved and implemented prior to any grading;
- shuttle busses to the SAU main campus shall be required per the attached parking/traffic study during events that exceed the available parking at the athletic complex and/or when overflow parking is not available;
- St. Ambrose University shall hire police officers to control traffic at the entrance(s) on football game days and other events that might draw comparable crowds;
- officers hired by SAU will need to help pedestrians cross Central Park Avenue near the football entrance (the City of Davenport will paint, sign and maintain any crosswalk needed at this location; if any signal timing changes are needed to help ease congestion at the intersection of Central Park and Marquette, that work will be done by City of Davenport staff; additionally, SAU will construct a six foot wide branch of its main North-South six foot wide sidewalk that runs along St. Vincent’s Road; this branch shall run from said main sidewalk to a point in the East-West Central Park public sidewalk that is aligned with the crosswalk and the North-South public sidewalk along Gaines Street south of Central Park Avenue; SAU shall also construct the appropriate ADA accessibility curb cut.);
- the City of Davenport Natural Resources office shall require a COSESCO application, grading plan, storm water pollution prevention plan and a copy of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources NPDES permit prior to ground disturbance;
- St. Ambrose University (SAU) hosted events at the Complex shall have all patrons utilize the “St. Vincent Road” driveway access point only (parking and access to the site shall not be via Assumption High School property);
- All service vehicles (suppliers, trash pick-up companies, maintenance crews, etc.) accessing the site shall use the main St Vincent Road access – the north “service entrance” at the foot of Gaines Street shall be down-graded to an emergency exit/entrance only and will remain locked to prevent unauthorized vehicular access;
- Access gates west of the stadium shall not be utilized for any SAU events except for access by official emergency personnel and vehicles;
- The berm, landscaping, and fence along the eastern property line shall be extended to the south to Central Park Avenue (respecting the visibility triangle rules) to screen the entire eastern portion of the property so as to adequately screen the overflow parking lot and to deter SAU patrons from parking in the neighborhood;
- The athletic track shall generally be made available to the public when not in use by SAU and Assumption High School (AHS) teams and classes;
- Undeveloped areas on the SAU property shall remain as open-space/green-space as shown on the attached diagram “C-1”;
- The Gaines and Ripley street corridors between the main SAU campus and the St. Vincent’s Athletic Complex shall have security patrols (at least two personnel) during and one hour after SAU football games;
- SAU shall remove trash from adjacent neighborhood areas after SAU stadium events and issues that arise concerning clean up and number, type, size, placement, and appearance of trash receptacles will be addressed through the Neighborhood Relations Council process;
- All conditions set forth in the Zoning Map Amendment process (this rezoning) shall be amended to the Land Use Plan and Narrative of Intent;
- Tailgating policy required;
- The project is required to adhere to the improved and more restrictive storm water ordinance levels;
- No expansion of stadium seating for 10 years;
- Issues concerning the location and operation of a northern pedestrian access point to be available when events are not occurring on the subject property shall be addressed through the Neighborhood Relations Council process;
- SAU agrees to coordinate design and construction of CIP Project #00165, being a 14th / 15th Sanitary District sewer cross-connection, with the City. The sewer shall be sized appropriately as mutually agreed. SAU agrees to construct the sewer as part of its construction program, without cost for easement to the City. The City will reimburse SAU for the actual and documented construction costs of the cross-connection, not later than 90 days following the start of the City fiscal year or annual budget amendment following construction, minus any sewer infrastructure savings SAU may achieve by connecting to this new sewer line. The terms of this condition shall be incorporated into an agreement between SAU and the City;
- Any future recreational path connecting the subject property to the Duck Creek pathway will be sited and designed by mutual agreement of SAU and the City Administrator or his designee/s.