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. 

Changes are in store for MRT bike riders when they get to Riverdale

Changes are in store for MRT bike riders when they get to Riverdale

After years of discussions with members of the Havens Acres neighborhood and Quad City bike-riding community, the City Council of Riverdale moved ahead with a number of projects intended to address safety and privacy concerns about the Mississippi River Trail bike path and its route through Riverdale.

Residents in Havens Acres have expressed their concerns about safety – both for themselves and for bicyclists – as motorists are often surprised by a bike rider ignoring a stop sign in the neighborhood or groups of riders in packs taking up the center of the narrow road making it impassable. Similarly, bike riders have expressed their frustration with residents yelling obscenities at them and sometimes threatening them for riding on a public thoroughfare.

This situation will change during 2020 as the City prepares to undertake the following projects/initiatives:

MRT/Havens Acres Barrier Fence

Starting this spring, the City of Riverdale will be erecting a chain link fence along the MRT from Duck Creek to the corner of the Sivyer Steel warehouse lot. This fence will, effectively, cut off Kensington Street from the MRT which means bike riders who want to make the connection from the MRT to the Duck Creek Bike Trail (or vice versa) will need to ride around the Havens Acres neighborhood and use the stretch of the MRT that runs along Bellingham Road.

MRT and Duck Creek Bridge Bollards 

In addition to the fence, bollards will be installed on the MRT to keep vehicular traffic off the trail between Duck Creek and Bellingham Road.

New Bike Path Signage

Once the fence has been installed and the bollards are in place, new signage will appear along both the Duck Creek Bike Trail and the MRT advising cyclists of the required route changes. New signage will also be installed at the Duck Creek Bike Trail trailhead in VanGundy Park advising cyclists that they have reached the end of the trail and that if they want to continue on to the MRT, they would need to ride east to Bellingham Road.

Bellingham Bike Stop

Among the incentives to get more bike riders to take the MRT along Bellingham, the City of Riverdale will build a “bike stop” in the parking lot currently located on Bellingham Road. The stop will include a porta-potty, bike rack, seating, a kiosk with a map of nearby bike trails and a repair station bikers can use to tighten loose equipment, an air pump to refill tires.

A Stronger Relationship with the Quad City Bike Club

In addition to these physical changes, Riverdale will start working more closely with the bike community, most notably the Quad City Bike Club, to communicate these changes directly to bikers. We are currently exploring the possibilities of becoming a “bicycle friendly community” and doing even more to encourage this healthy activity as well as Riverdale’s unique circumstance in the Quad Cities as the ONLY community to serve as a major intersection of the major bike trails in the area.

Ride on!

City landscaping projects begin

City landscaping projects begin

Earlier this year, the City of Riverdale selected Quercus Land Stewardship Services, from Black Earth, WI, to plan, install and maintain the landscapes of the City’s parks and public places as part of a three-year program. Alex Wenthe, the owner of Quercus, is a Quad City native and familiar with the area. The company also has other clients in the community.

Quercus Land Stewardship Services (QLSS) is a small business located in Southwest Wisconsin
that specializes in ecological restoration and vegetation management. Their services include urban
and suburban restorations like retention basins, rain gardens, native landscaping and more.

Alex and his team were in Riverdale this week, starting the project (worth between $20 – $25,000 per year). In addition to the landscaping work they will be performing, Quercus has also been engaged to conduct the year-long, invasive species audit of City property as well as assisting the City in the preparation and implementation of a tree management plan which is intended to address the large number of damaged and standing-dead trees on City property.

We thought it might be helpful to provide some idea of how they view Riverdale’s current landscaping and how Quercus will be helping the city create attractive, sustainable landscapes in the community that all residents can enjoy.

Assessment and Recommendation

As cited in their proposal, Quercus gave the following review of Riverdale’s current situation and vision of the future:

Preliminary site assessments show that current landscaping on City property is in need of repair and maintenance. The existing pants are overgrown and the mulch groundcover has deteriorated significantly. Ornamental plants were mainly used in the initial installation, which often need continued care and maintenance to survive. Some of the current plants are also considered invasive and should be removed.

Quercus only uses plants that are native to the area. Native plants increase habitat/food sources for declining species like bees and butterflies. They also increase water infiltration, decrease erosion, require less maintenance, and survive at a higher rate. Native landscaping doesn’t mean “messy” either. Our native plantings are still formal and aesthetically pleasing.

We recommend using only plants native to Eastern Iowa going forward. There is no need to remove most of the existing plants, however when they die naturally we will replace them with natives. Also when beds need supplemental plants, only natives will be used. This will help keep costs down while transitioning to native plants over the three year contract period. Costs for this recommendation are included in the estimate.

Another recommendation is to make your own mulch. New mulch provides a “fresh” look that is hard to replicate, however mulching every year can get expensive. Rather than spending money to remove invasive and undesirable trees, then more money bring in new mulch. We will do both in one step. We will cut down the trees, chip them into mulch, and use them in the landscaping beds. We use only inert woody material and make sure no invasive seeds are included in the mulch. This technique is both budget friendly and environmentally conscious. Costs for this recommendation are included in the estimate.

The third recommendation is to improve the natural areas around the parks, especially highly visible or high use areas. A specific are to improve is the Northeast corner of Bi-centennial park. There are many old (100 yrs+) oak trees in this area that would benefit from understory clearing and possible replanting. This would improve the park’s usability, aesthetics, and ecological health. We could even add trails as desired by the city. Costs for this recommendation are not included in the estimate.

There are many other intricacies of this project that are difficult to discuss in a written proposal. All of our decisions will be based on our company philosophy to improve the places we work for all creatures, humans and otherwise. Many of our landscaping recommendations will be similar to recommendations made through the vegetation survey. By using Quercus for both the vegetation survey and landscaping contract, we believe you will save time and money and have a better  overall product. We are a professional, flexible, and responsive company that aims to increase the long-term heath and viability of your park system.

Where Will the Work Be Done?

According to the RFP issued by the City of Riverdale in December, the contractor selected to install and maintain the City’s landscaping is expected to handle weed, leaf and other debris removal, trim and maintain all bushes and ground cover, sweep and blow off walkways in City spaces and remove all debris and landscape materials. The contractor is also expected to provide playground-approved mulch for the City’s two playgrounds.

Specifically, work will be performed in the following areas:

  • City Hall
  • Parks:
    • Volunteer Square Park
    • Bicentennial Park
  • Playgrounds:
    • Bicentennial Park Playground
    • Peggy’s Park Playground
  • Trails:
    • Mississippi River Trail (Arconic Rest Stop)
    • Mississippi River Trail (Arconic Parking Lot/Bellingham Bike Station)
    • Duck Creek Bike Path Trailhead/VanGundy Park