Dubuque seeking public input on future of riverfront - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque seeking public input on future of riverfront


As part of Dubuque's ongoing revitalization, city officials say public input is essential for continued redevelopment in the Port of Dubuque.

A public input meeting Thursday evening at the Grand River Center will allow people to do just that.

What many people know as simply the Port of Dubuque, with the Diamond Jo Casino, Grand Harbor Resort, National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, River Walk and more, is actually only the North Port.

Just a stone's throw away from North Port, across the Ice Harbor, is the South Port: 33 acres of vacant and industrial waterfront property the city wants to redevelop.

Strolling the South Port's streets, Dubuque planning services manager Laura Carstens and Phil Wagner, the city's assistant director of economic development, see how the South Port can improve.

"Not all the roads are paved or in good condition, so even by vehicle or bike it's difficult and certainly very difficult for pedestrians to navigate down here," Carstens said. "It's really not a friendly environment for hardly any type of use other than this heavy industrial use."

The city is teaming up with the University of Iowa's School of Urban and Regional Planning to get public input on how the South Port should be redeveloped.

"You could use entertainment uses such as we have currently off the river," Wagner said. "There could be loft apartments off the river."

A Port of Dubuque Master Plan from 2002 proposed some ideas, but that was, after all, 10 years ago.

"The plan originally called for uses that were complementary to the North Port," Wagner said. "We're trying to get feedback from residents to hear: is the North Port something you enjoy? Is it something you utilize? Is that something you'd like to see done in the South Port? Or, if not, how would you like us to utilize the South Port?"

It's a rare opportunity for Dubuque residents and other Port of Dubuque stakeholders to literally help shape the Mississippi riverfront.

"This is an entrance coming off the Illinois bridge," Wagner said. "It can be a welcome to the town."

"Let's take another look at the South Port, get some input from those who own businesses and own property down here, as well as the community at large," Carstens said.

Challenges to development include access, as the main road in and out of the South Port has active railroad tracks running across it, and noise from traffic.

"There's access challenges, there's floodwall challenges, but...at this stage, we're just dreaming," Wagner said.

City officials and the graduate students with the University of Iowa School of Urban and Regional Planning are looking for any and all ideas about how this space should be redeveloped.

People can bring their ideas to a meeting Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Grand River Center in the north Port of Dubuque. The graduate students will hold another public input meeting in the spring to present the best ideas from this week's meeting and allow people to vote.

People can also give their input at the city's Website HERE.

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