Posted Online: May 12, 2009, 10:29 pm

Lindsay Park lovers share hopes for Davenport landmark

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By Anthony Watt, awatt@qconline.com

DAVENPORT-- More than 100 people attended the first of several meetings about how to improve Lindsay Park.

Straddling River Drive by the village of East Davenport, the park features a playground, a ball diamond, a basketball court and a lot of wide open green space, much of it overlooking the Mississippi River.

Some of its grounds were part of Camp McClellan, a training base for Iowa recruits heading off to fight in the Civil War. It also served as a prison, and possibly burial ground, for Sioux Indians after a conflict in Minnesota during the same time period.

City staff on Tuesday unveiled possible goals for the park, while the public had a chance to express their concerns and give input on improvements.

"We need to assure there is a diversity of amenities in the park," said Darrin Nordahl, of the city's Community and Economic Development Department. It's not only a recreational area for the surrounding neighborhood, he said, but it also serves the whole Quad-Cities community.

Among Davenport's goals for the park is to provde more access for those with disabilities, a shelter for events, walkways and better access between the park's two halves.

Mr. Nordahl also said the city is working on ways to commemorate the park's history and to erect better signage for current parking. Two lots serve the park — one at the intersection of River Drive and Mound Street and the other near the river, by the Lindsay Park Yacht Club.

Parking topped the concerns of many attending Tuesday's meeting. Some feared parking spaces would be carved from the park, at the expense of playing fields, to help East Davenport businesses.

Sentiment among those speaking Tuesday overwhelmingly opposed such alteration. The village can ease its parking problems, people said, by joining current business lots, adding parking elsewhere and noting existing parking.

"If the commercial interests have a parking problem, that is their problem and they should handle it themselves," said Ferrel Anderson, a village resident.

Mr. Nordahl said there were tentative discussions earlier in the year about expanding parking into the western half of the park, possibly by expanding the Mound Street lot or moving the basketball courts farther south into the park and adding an events plaza that would double as parking when not in use.

Those possibilities were offered along with several other ideas for park use, he said, and the idea never involved removing amenities. No concrete plan was formed at that stage, Mr. Nordahl said, and officials elected to start a planning process that prompted Tuesday's meeting.

Other audience concerns included better upkeep of the park and improving the existing playing fields and basketball court.

To aid with planning, the city intends to form a steering committee made up of city officials, historians, business interests and the public. Seve Ghose, the city parks and recreation director, said he hopes to recruit about eight citizens to complement the other interests. Anyone in the Quad-Cities can apply, he said, by contacting the Parks and Recreation Department at (563) 326-7812.