Meeting Notes from the Meeting with Representatives from Environmental Groups, City Staff, Consultants held on January 23, 2008 at 5:00 pm at the City Planning Department Office.
Rudy Habben Sierra Club
Maureen McNamara Transport
Jane Gerdes City of Peoria Public Works
Tom Tincher Heartland Water Resources
Pashion Gawoash Heartland Water Resources
Bernie Goiteen Bradley University
Ross Black City of Peoria Planning Department
Bobby Gray City of Peoria Economic Development
Craig Hullinger City of Peoria Economic Development
John Sharp, Peoria Journal Star
Craig Hullinger, Director of Economic Development, called the meeting to order. Hullinger presented the proposed City of Peoria’s master plans for the river edge which include the Green Heart of Peoria Plan, River’s Edge Redevelopment Initiative (portion of the lakefront between War Memorial Drive and I-474) and the Green Edge Plan (between Water Street and War Memorial Drive). Hullinger noted that all plans were draft and prelimary, and subject to change based on public input and further study.
As part of the Green Edge Plan, three alternatives for the redevelopment of the Riverfront Park between Spring Street and the Riverplex parking lot were presented:
1. Do Nothing – no change to the existing park;
2. Road Only – construction of River Trail Drive through the park, which would eventually connect with Grand View Drive as part of the Green Edge Plan. The road would provide the public an opportunity to drive and overlook the lake similar to Grand View Drive;
3. Townhomes and Islands – Same as 2, with townhomes and/or mixed-use development on the west side of River Trail Drive; improvement to existing park amenities; creation of two islands with river dredged fill materials to atone for loss of open/green space: one island for recreation purposes, and one island with naturalized plantings for wildlife habitats. Parkland taken for development would be replaced twice - with the new island parks, and with purchase required from the sale of the property.
The City’s plan to eliminate the combined sewer overflow at Spring Street was briefly mentioned. The idea of incorporating wet weather storage of the combined sewage at the project location was discussed, along some preliminary cost issues.
Hullinger introduced Paul Vicari and Jack Chan as the environmental and ecological consultants to the City. Vicari and Chan would help facilitate the workshop discussion.
Two breakout groups were formed to discuss the redevelopment of the river’s edge, including the proposed three alternatives of the Riverfront Park Redevelopment.
GROUP DISCUSSION HIGHLIGHTS:
· The existing riverfront park is an asset to be maintained for the quality of life for residence in Peoria and surrounding communities. As such, access to the riverfront and water’s edge should be improved and the park should provide pedestrian-friendly recreation and amenities. Shade trees are needed for comfort in summer months”.
· Safety was raised as a concern with the existing park. Additional lighting should be considered.
· Sulfur springs still exist near south edge of the existing Komatsu property.
· City Engineer (Jane Gerdes) confirmed that the City has ROW on quite a few streets that lead to the edge of river. An example of which is Spring Street that has the combined sewer outfall at the end of the street.
· Several concerns and challenges to Alternative 3 were raised:
· Technical/engineering challenges to island creation.
· Whether it is an equitable trade-off to allow for the loss of public open space in return for private development, even with the creation of recreation and habitat islands.
· Hydrologic and hydraulic issues with the created islands – a hydraulic study will be required; impacts of the islands to flood flow.
· Creation of islands may not be a permanent solution to the siltation problem experienced by Peoria Lake. The need for long-termed strategies was raised. This project presents a retrofit opportunity as a short-term part of the overall solutions.
· The development plan should strike a balance between
· Ecology, and
· A consensus was reached that the Green Edge Plan was a great idea where landowners would be given incentive to donate their river frontage to create public green space. However, the need for a proposed drive was questioned. A "green" alternative, such as the trail-only option, should be given consideration.
The idea of "development in nodes" was brought up. Development should happen in nodes at major access points (streets) connected by a linear green river's edge and a multi-purpose trail system.
· A phased approach should be taken to fully realize the Green Edge Plan and spark revitalization of Peoria downtown where mini-projects (park enhancement) should be considered to get interest going.
· Involvement and cooperation from multiple agencies and local governments (such as the Park District and the County of Peoria) in carrying out the Green Edge Plan.
· The Riverfront Park (constitution garden) is difficult to get to. Better public awareness of the park and better visual and physical access to the park is needed. Improved interpretative signage at the park should be considered. Alternative use of the park to include a visitor center/museum was suggested. Historical aspects (DuSable settlement site, Native American Village, and railroad history, etc.)
· It was suggested that a net benefit has to be resulted from this project. Each alternative should be evaluated based on its net gain.
· Biodiversity is an important factor. More birds, the better.
CONCLUDING REMARKS: Everyone was thanked for their participation in the mini-charrette. LRMG will prepare the minutes and note all the comments and suggestions raised during the meeting. Participants were invited to join another public meeting on February 6, 2008 from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm, where nearby property owners in the neighborhood will be invited. Everyone is welcome to attend and further discuss the proposed development. A public Hearing before the Planning Commission is also scheduled to take place on February 20, 2008.