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Judge orders summary judgement in Riverdale’s favor

Judge orders summary judgement in Riverdale’s favor

A ruling was issued on Tuesday by Judge Henry Latham II, in Iowa District Court, concerning the lawsuit filed against the City of Riverdale by individuals and groups representing users of the Mississippi River Trail who were upset by the City Council’s decision to close and lock the gate between the multi-use trail and South Kensington Street in the Havens Acres neighborhood. The ruling denied the Plaintiffs’ request for a Summary Judgement that would have required the City to re-open the gate and allow for the passage of bikes, walkers and runners unabated and, at the same time, granted the City’s request for a Summary Judgement to allow the gate to remain locked and require trail users to remain on the trail as they circumnavigate the neighborhood.

The Plaintiffs’ request the City also pay for other, consequential damages and attorney’s fees were also denied.

“This seems like a reasonable outcome,” said Riverdale’s mayor, Mike Bawden. “And this is the way disputes like this should be worked out – in a court of law rather than in the court of public opinion. The City felt it had a right to act in a way that addressed the needs and concerns of its residents and the plaintiffs in this case felt they had a right to continue riding across City-owned property to make a convenient connection between the two, great multi-use trails in the Iowa Quad Cities.”

“Despite our efforts and offers to work with trail users to develop solutions, they made the decision that taking a more adversarial approach was preferred. I think it’s pretty clear we weren’t anywhere near agreement on how to move forward, so letting this work its way through the courts was probably the best solution.”

It’s not over … yet

The Mayor reminded people that even though the City’s position prevailed at this time, that does not necessarily mean the litigation is over.

“For some folks, this decision may seem like the end of the road – but the Plaintiffs in this case have options to consider. They’ve made it pretty clear in their social media postings that they want to look at other legal possibilities, so I urge our residents not to think this is over and, above all, don’t gloat.”

Mayor Bawden refused to speculate on what the Plaintiffs in the case may do next, but he did make note of the fact that the “problems” (both perceived and actual) arising from the Council’s decision to close and lock the gate at the end of South Kensington Street need to be addressed.

What’s next?

“I’ve already received messages from some of the more outspoken bike advocates threatening boycotts of Riverdale businesses and worse.” said the Mayor. “And while I think most of the rhetoric is just venting frustration, I think we need to realize that this situation has arisen out of concerns some trail users have about their safety when they’re using the MRT in Riverdale – and that’s an issue we need to continue working on as a city.”

The upcoming review and certification of the City’s proposed FY22 budget provides an immediate opportunity to show the City is serious about addressing some of those concerns. “We have two items in the FY22 budget that are related to some of the concerns raised by trail users and residents, alike,” he said. “I hope we’ll be able to adopt them into our FY22 project plan and get to work on them sooner rather than later.”

Those two projects include installing cameras on the traffic lights at the intersection of Bellingham Road and Hwy 67 (State Street) that will allow the lights to be triggered optically (when traffic approaches the intersection) rather than the current timer system. The system should also allow the City to capture the license plate numbers of vehicles that run the red light at the intersection so fines can be issued and evidence can be collected in the event of an accident.

The budget also provides an additional amount for re-painting the IADOT-approved bike crossing across Hwy 67 to make it more noticeable to vehicles using the street. “I’d hope we could work with an organization like Bi-State and the Quad City Bicycle Club” to improve the way the crossing is marked and directional signage along the trail as we make these improvements,” said Bawden.

A multi-jurisdictional solution is what’s needed

Mayor Bawden reiterated his intention of continuing to engage both the Iowa Department of Transportation and the City of Bettendorf in making improvements that address the safety, traffic and privacy concerns of both sides involved in the dispute. “Bettendorf is really a key to any long-term solution,” he said. “By working together, I hope we will be able to get the Iowa DOT to consider reducing the speed limit of State Street from 40 to 35 from downtown Bettendorf to the main gate entrance at Madison Street in Riverdale.”

“If we’re successful there and the Bettendorf Police Department enforces the speed limit, that could have a dramatic effect on the risks people face when they cross at Bellingham. Add to that the ability to identify vehicles that run the light at that intersection and a more visible crossing, and I think we’re off to a good start.”

The Mayor also pointed out that at some point he’s hopeful the City of Bettendorf will honor the commitment they made to turn the sidewalk running from the Duck Creek Bike Trail to the MRT at Bellingham (on the north side of State Street) into a full-sized, multi-use trail. That promise was memorialized nearly seven years ago but no further action has been taken by the Bettendorf City Council since. “I understand there may be some challenges to moving ahead on that commitment, but I’m not clear as to what those are,” Bawden said.

Final Parks and Trails Plan Assessment Meeting Set

Final Parks and Trails Plan Assessment Meeting Set

An online meeting to review the final draft of the Parks and Trail System Needs Assessment for Riverdale has been set by our consultant, MSA Professional Services.

Details for the meeting are as follows:

Join Zoom Meeting

Phone one-tap:

US: +19294362866,,81065576908#,,,,*046855# or +13017158592,,81065576908#,,,,*046855#

Meeting URL:

https://msa-ps.zoom.us/j/81065576908?pwd=UUxOTUkxWFFiclJhRW84VENuK0EyUT09

Meeting ID:

810 6557 6908

Passcode:

046855

Join by Telephone

For higher quality, dial a number based on your current location.

Dial:

US: +1 929 436 2866 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799

Meeting ID:

810 6557 6908

Passcode:

046855

A draft of the assessment can be reviewed by clicking here.

Online phone directory removed to prevent potential harassment.

Online phone directory removed to prevent potential harassment.

City Hall was notified that social media posts had started appearing on Facebook that shared the addresses and phone numbers of the mayor, at least one member of the City Council and several residents of the Havens Acres neighborhood. The posts were on a group page dedicated to fighting the closure of the connector path between the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) and South Kensington Street in Riverdale.

The reason why the addresses and links to the online phone directory on the City’s website were shared isn’t stated, but several members of the online group objected to the sharing of information and reported the post. The City also contacted the Quad City Bicycle Club and requested they help remove the post – the club has been helpful in quelling disruptive behavior on social media in the past.

The posts have now been removed from Facebook and the online phone directory has been removed from the City’s website for the time being.

“The online phone directory was something we put on the website when we first launched it,” explained Mayor Mike Bawden. “It was provided as a convenience for residents so they could contact their friends and neighbors. Those residents who didn’t want their information on the website could ask for it to be removed – and did.”

“Given the actions of a few people who are very upset with the closure of the connector path between the MRT and Kensington Street, it’s probably best we remove the directory for the time being. If it comes back, it will probably need to come back behind in a secure/password protected section of the website.”

Members of the Facebook group who objected to the posting of private residential addresses and phone numbers contacted the City directly to make sure officials there were aware of what had happened and could take action.

We need your input on Riverdale’s parks and trails

We need your input on Riverdale’s parks and trails

Riverdale needs to hear from residents about what they feel is needed when it comes to parks, trails and wild spaces owned and cared for by the City. For the past few months, an ad hoc group of residents have been working with Council Member Anthony Heddlesten and representatives from MSA Professional Services to conduct a comprehensive review of the natural assets of the community.

A survey has been developed to collect the thoughts of residents on how the City should use its natural assets and further develop the parks and trails in the City. MSA has prepared an overview of the project that explains the processes used and the long-term vision and goals the process is intended to define.

The hope is that the City and MSA will be able to conduct a virtual community input session sometime this summer. The public’s participation in the survey is necessary, though, to make sure that input session is worthwhile.

Please click here to take the survey right now.

The Bookmobile is coming … to Riverdale!

The Bookmobile is coming … to Riverdale!

The Scott County Library’s Bookmobile will be making its next stop in Riverdale on July 2nd from 3pm to 5:45pm, and residents are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity. The Bookmobile will be at City Hall and people can browse through the collection (one person at a time, please).

According to the Scott County Library’s web page for the Bookmobile …

In June 1947, Edna Spies founded the Scott County Bookmobile to bring library service to rural children, and in 1950, the Scott County bookmobile organization became the Scott County Library System.

The bookmobile remains an important element of our outreach services and partners with elementary schools and brings library service to the residents of Scott County. 

Riverdale residents pay around $16,000 a year to the Scott County Library system which operates a branch library system in Eldridge, Blue Grass, Walcott, Park View, Durant, Princeton and other small towns in Scott County outside of the metro area.  You can check out their published schedule to find out when the bookmobile will be back to Riverdale.

With the return of the Bookmobile, Riverdale residents will be able to return books to the county library system or pick-up books they’ve pre-ordered from the library. Although entry into the mobile library won’t be possible on this trip, it is possible to check material out directly from the bookmobile while it is in our neck of the woods.

For more information, contact Catherine Zimmerman at the Scott County Library – 563-285-4794

Mayor proposes guidelines for opening playgrounds and public gathering places

Mayor proposes guidelines for opening playgrounds and public gathering places

Mayor Mike Bawden has prepared a draft of guidelines for re-opening the City’s playgrounds and public gathering places like the Council Chambers and Community Room at City Hall. These guidelines take into consideration public health concerns related to the COVID-19 outbreak and, if passed, will go into effect on June 1, 2020.

 

Parks and Playgrounds

The guidelines allow for visitors to use the parks from sunrise to sunset, but requires individuals or family units (those people living in the same household) to maintain at least a distance of six feet between groups. Picnicking and sunbathing in the parks will be permitted (as of June 1), but only if proper social distancing protocols are followed. Masks are not required but are encouraged.

Other rules related to the parks – specifically anti-littering provisions and no open flames – remain in effect. If park visitors want to use an on-site structure (e.g. the gazebo in Volunteer Park or the shelters in Peggy’s Park or Bicentennial Park), they may do so, but there are additional guidelines that must be followed and the facilities must be reserved at City Hall prior to their use.

With specific regard to playgrounds, the mayor’s proposal includes the use of PLAYGROUND GUIDES to help supervise the activities during restricted hours (10 am to 5:30 pm). Children (and their siblings or adult supervisors) are asked to take turns using equipment so only one child is on a piece of equipment at a time. Everyone using playground equipment is required to wear a mask or cloth face covering. If they don’t have one, the mayor proposes the City provide a face covering that can be returned (for cleaning) after use.

When the playgrounds close, the PLAYGROUND GUIDES will be tasked with disinfecting and wiping down the equipment to prepare it for the next day.

The parks and playground guidelines are intended to run through August 15 but may be extended if deemed necessary by the mayor.

 

Public Gathering Spots

The mayor has also provided proposed guidelines to re-open the outdoor and indoor gathering spots in the City’s parks and at City Hall. These guidelines would go into effect on June 1, as well, and remain in effect until modified.

In general, the modified guidelines require people who want to use any of the public gathering spots to notify City staff at City Hall and obtain a permit. There is no cost for getting an occupancy permit for the gazebo or park shelters, but the City is asking residents to reserve no more than four hours at a time to allow other residents to enjoy the amenities at their leisure, as well. The permitting process also provides an opportunity for staff to review the guidelines for use with the resident and to answer any questions that may arise.

For the outdoor facilities, residents and their groups can meet at the location although the number of people allowed under the roof at one time is limited to reflect preferred social distance practices. Face coverings are highly recommended, but not required.

Outdoor gathering spots close when the parks close, at sunset, although accommodations can be made but may be subject to a fee and will be handled on a case-by-case basis (subject to mayoral or administrative approval).

As for the gathering spots at City Hall – most notably the Community Room, but also the Council Chambers – use is limited to one gathering per room per day, with strict attendance limitations. This is to allow time for staff to clean and disinfect the facilities between uses. Reservations will be posted to the calendar on the City’s website so individuals interested in reserving one room or the other will know what days are free.

We need a hand to open our playgrounds this summer …

We need a hand to open our playgrounds this summer …

“We’re in this together.”

Does that sound familiar? It should. It’s the catch-phrase that so many organizations, businesses and public officials are using as a rallying cry to the American public as we deal with the widespread, public health and economic crisis.

As a guy who creates slogans and catch-phrases for a living, I can tell you that the best of them are the ones that appeal to your common sense. They just sound true when they are said. And you are able to see yourself “Just Doing It” or “Doing Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.”

And, yes, I just called “The Golden Rule” a catch-phrase. That King James had some pretty great copywriters on his staff.

“We’re In This Together” reminds us that by working together, we (all of humanity, really, since this is a pandemic we’re talking about) can accomplish amazing things. That idea holds up on all different levels. Even when you break it down to a small city the size of Riverdale. 

Especially when we’re talking about our smallest residents.

 

Riverdale Needs Your Help

As you may have noticed, I’ve proposed to the City Council that we take some extra precautions when we try to re-open our playgrounds and community gathering spots in June. These precautions are intended to help keep the most vulnerable among us safe from the unintended spread of the coronavirus.

“Social spread” of the coronavirus is a particularly difficult problem. It’s been shown that people can infect others before they even show any symptoms of the illness. This is of particular concern with children – who may have and spread the virus and never show signs of contracting it.

As a result, schools, parks and playgrounds were closed during the public health emergency declarations and now cities and states are trying to figure out the best way to re-open them and not create a surge in COVID-19 infections as an unintended consequence. A big part of the problem, though, is that many of the “customers” of our parks and playgrounds are too young to understand or practice effective distancing measures without a little encouragement and reinforcement.

That’s why the Riverdale plan for re-opening our playgrounds includes the introduction of PLAYGROUND GUIDES. Just like public swimming pools employ lifeguards to provide instruction and ensure safety, I envision Riverdale’s PLAYGROUND GUIDES doing much the same thing in our playgrounds in Bicentennial Park and Peggy’s Park.

While it would be nice to have volunteers provide this service, I think we have to be realistic and not expect that to actually happen – at least not all the time. For that reason, I’ve asked the Council to authorize up to $10,000 in expenses this summer to cover the cost of part-time wages and provide supplies and materials to our PLAYGROUND GUIDES (whether they’re paid or volunteers) so proper oversight and instruction can occur at our playgrounds.

Please take a look at the proposed guidelines here and participate in our discussion at City Hall at Tuesday’s Council Meeting – when the Council considers authorizing both the guidelines and the supplemental budget expenditure for the guides program this summer. 

MidAmerican Energy says “yes” when Riverdale residents asked for “Trees, please!”

MidAmerican Energy says “yes” when Riverdale residents asked for “Trees, please!”

Thanks to some persistence by long-time residents Linda and Dale Hupp, the City of Riverdale is the recipient of a $1,000 grant through the “Trees, Please!” program from MidAmerican Energy. The City Council will consider a resolution authorizing the spending of an additional $1,000 this year to match the grant (a requirement), meaning we could see the two thousand dollars’ of new trees gracing Riverdale’s parks and green spaces later this year.

More information about the “Trees, Please” grant can be found here. The resolution to be considered by the City Council at Tuesday’s meeting – can be found here.

Spring has sprung … and so has the Garlic Mustard

Spring has sprung … and so has the Garlic Mustard

Springtime is a time of hope and optimism. As the weather breaks and temperatures rise, people like to spend time outside. And all of that “indoor time” from the previous months contribute to a little “springtime optimism” that creates lists full of gardening and yard projects for the ambitious homeowner.

But you’ll rarely find “fighting with Garlic Mustard” on anyone’s list.

That’s because Garlic Mustard, a fast-spreading and highly invasive weed, can overwhelm you with its ability to grow just about anywhere, the path of destruction it leaves in its wake and its tenacity (some call it down-right stubbornness) when it comes to removal.

What You Should Know About Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard can grow in most soil types and can grow in full sun or full shade. It’s an equal-opportunity invader and its roots produce a chemical that is toxic to other plants.

Mowing Garlic Mustard doesn’t control it. The plants will bolt and seed. Many homeowners resort to hand-pulling the plants when they are in bloom and easy to identify (during April), but must revisit pulled sites frequently to make sure more Garlic Mustard hasn’t popped up to replace their lost comrades.

Left unattended, Garlic Mustard can spread quickly. Each plant can produce up to 5,000 seeds which can remain viable in the soil for up to 5 years.

How to Identify Garlic Mustard

(From the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District Website

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is a biennial, meaning each plant lives its life over two growing seasons. Seedlings emerge in early March, forming a rosette of leaves the first year. The leaves are alternate, triangular to heart shaped, have scalloped edges and give off an odor of garlic when crushed. The odor can be used to distinguish garlic mustard from native plants like evergreen violet (Viola sempervirens), piggy-back plant (Tolmiea menziesii), fringecup (Tellima grandiflora) and non-native plants such as silver dollar plant (Lunaria annua).

Garlic mustard also has a distinct “s” shaped curve at the base of the stem. Garlic mustard flowers during the second year of growth. In March and April of the second year, plants send up a flower stalk from 12 to 48 inches tall, topped with a cluster of white four-petaled flowers. The seeds form in narrow, green seed pods that originate from the center of the flowers and turn brown as the seed matures. The plant dies after producing seed and the brown, dried out stem with the brown seed pods remain through winter.

How to Control Garlic Mustard

Hand pulling and herbicides are the two most effective methods of controlling Garlic Mustard. While hand removal may work for small patches that can be re-visited frequently, herbicides are often used for large infestations. Over-use of herbicides that manage to kill off other native vegetation that may compete with Garlic Mustard only results in less competition for the Garlic Mustard seeds that germinate the following year.

Herbicides don’t kill Garlic Mustard seeds.

The video below provides more instructions on how to deal with Garlic Mustard:

What is Riverdale Doing About Garlic Mustard?

Riverdale is currently conducting an audit of the invasive species in the City-owned woods, trails and other greenspaces. We have also been asked by Arconic to audit their property as well since so much of it lies next to Riverdale’s. Scott Community College is conducting a similar audit.

We all know the audits will report a significant population of Garlic Mustard within the City’s geography – but the audits will help us identify the areas where widespread treatment is called for. In subsequent years, the City expects to spend a significant amount of money to gain control and then manage the Garlic Mustard spread in the City. 

Residents are encouraged to inspect their own yards and the wooded areas around their homes to identify patches of Garlic Mustard. If possible, we ask residents to pull and manage what patches they can and to let City Hall know if there are patches that are just too big for them to handle on their own.

By working together, the City, its residents and local business and education concerns can stem the tide of Garlic Mustard, saving all parties hundreds of thousands of dollars in habitat replacement, unnecessary erosion damage and worse. 

Thanks for your help.

Kensington closed to bike traffic during road construction

Kensington closed to bike traffic during road construction

As Brandt Construction continues to work on the roadway rehabilitation project in the Havens Acres neighborhood (specifically along Kensington and Wisteria Streets), the improved weather has inadvertently created a dangerous situation. Bikers and walkers using the Mississippi River and Duck Creek Bike Trails and, as in previous years, try to take the short-cut through Havens Acres to connect between the two.

Residents there reported over a half-dozen, “near miss” accidents with bicyclists and construction vehicles on Friday, resulting in the City posting signs and putting up a snow fence blocking off Kensington Road. Some riders continued to ignore signs and climbed over the snow fence over the weekend, so the City will install more signs and a second level of snow fence to make the need to detour around the construction a little more “obvious.”

“It’s terribly disappointing that a few bicyclists would flagrantly ignore our attempts to create a safe construction environment down here,” said Mayor Mike Bawden. “We already have our hands full with relatively narrow roads (built in the 40s and 50s), increased neighborhood traffic because more residents are staying home due to COVID-19, and the possibility that school may resume in a few weeks putting more kids and school vehicles into the area at the same time.”

“There’s not much we can do about neighborhood traffic or school buses, but reducing the amount of walkers and bikers going through the area should be a relatively easy thing to accomplish,” he said.

Plans for a more permanent barrier fence between the MRT and Havens Acres neighborhood are moving forward. The fence will create a more permanent closure of Kensington Street and is just part of a larger plan to help re-direct bike and pedestrian traffic around the neighborhood.