Veto stands against $25 million St. Ambrose sports complex

Originally Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2014, 6:45 pm
Last Updated: Aug. 13, 2014, 10:18 pm
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By Stephen Elliott,

DAVENPORT - The Davenport City Council fell one vote shy of overriding Mayor Bill Gluba's veto last month of rezoning for a proposed $25 million St. Ambrose University sports complex.

Wednesday's vote now means St. Ambrose likely will seek other means to complete the sports complex.

St. Ambrose needed a 7-to-3 vote, or a super majority, to override the veto. Wednesday night's vote to override Mayor Bill Gluba's veto of rezoning property for the project was 6-4.

"Of course we're disappointed," said St. Ambrose University President Sister Joan Lescinski CSJ (Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph).

"We know that we had presented a cogent argument. We had made significant concessions and we had agreed to stipulations that we think would have been beneficial to the city," she said. "But we will move forward and look at all appropriate options."

St. Ambrose's resolution called for 31 acres of 45 acres at 800 W. Central Park Ave., the former St. Vincent's Center property, for a sports complex that would include a 2,500-seat football stadium, a 500-space parking lot, a soccer field, a softball diamond and other athletic fields.

St. Ambrose wanted to rezone the area for the complex. The city council approved the third and final consideration of St. Ambrose's request on July 9 with all three considerations following the same voting lines.

Those same voting lines stayed consistent Wednesday evening.

In favor of the project were Alds. Jason Gordon and Gene Meeker, both At-Large; Ald. Bill Edmond, 2nd Ward; William Boom, 3rd Ward; Jeff Justin, 6th Ward, and Kerri Tompkins, 8th Ward.

Opposed were Alds. Rick Dunn, 1st Ward; Ray Ambrose, 4th Ward; Barney Barnhill, 5th Ward; and Mike Matson, 7th Ward.

Mayor Gluba said the issue was one of principle over politics. Now is the time for all parties to come together and try to heal the wounds that have been created, he said, adding he wants to work with St. Ambrose to find, "a more suitable location, not in a residential neighborhood for a university football stadium.

"They only need to call to ask for my help," he said.

Neighbors of the site on Wednesday -- as they have at past meetings -- continued to state concerns with storm water, sewer and property values, along with traffic, crime, noise, tailgating and a growth in rental properties in their neighborhoods if the rezoning request was approved.

St. Ambrose planned to use the sports complex with Assumption High School, hoping to break ground in 2015. The question now is how the stadium scenario will play out. One possibility is that Assumption High School takes over the property from St. Ambrose and builds the stadium.

Ald. Boom has said that, under Iowa law, high schools can use property such as the St. Vincent's site to improve its own facilities without council approval.

After Wednesday's meeting, Mike Poster, vice president of finance for St. Ambrose, said the university will look at all options.

"We've spent four years listening, studying and designing this complex," he said. "We've met all the requirements. Its been approved by Davenport city staff, approved by plan and design, approved by the city council.

"We just didn't have enough votes to overcome the veto."

Mr. Poster would not address the Assumption possibility.

"I think it's too early to speculate on all of the options," he said. "We'll take some time to formulate a plan."

Ald. Ambrose, who opposed the proposed SAU sports complex location, said he hopes a solution can be found.

"It's unfortunate St. Ambrose wasn't willing to step back earlier and look at other locations," he said. "But I'm excited now that we'll have an opportunity to sit down with St. Ambrose and city staff to find a location that will be a win-win for St. Ambrose, a win for Assumption, and a win for the whole community."

In other business, the council tabled two lease agreements with Raufeisen Development for The Dock at Davenport project until the city's levee improvement commission has time to review more information on the design concepts.


Local events heading

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