After years of looking at a rendering of the ambitious Manhattan Harbour project that will reshape Dayton, Kentucky's riverfront, members of the planning and zoning committee expressed surprise this week that the green space in the rendering will not translate to actual green space for the community.
"I was thinking more like Bellevue Beach Park with grass right down to the river," said committee member Lynn Adam on Tuesday night. "This is not what is going to happen down there."
The committee met Tuesday before a special meeting of the city council to approve zoning issues for Phase A the Lookout and the Commons portion of the large development.
"The presentation of all this parkland down there isn't real, it's isn't real," Adam said. "It's not green. That drawing doesn't tell the truth at all. It's riprap. It's not walkable, it's not green, it's not a park."
"Let's not kid each other about what's going on down there. It's not that drawing."
"It's referred to as open space, not green space," said Joe Kramer of Cardinal Engineering who spoke on behalf of developer DCI. "It's not that we're here to mislead you."
Kramer explained that the condition and nature of the riverbank at Dayton would not allow for green space all the way to the water.
"We had to prove the stability (to the Army Corps of Engineers)," Kramer said. "Allowing it to be free-draining was the way to do that."
"There will be a couple areas where (the landscape architect) can put a park but at the end of the day we're stuck with the river."
When Lynn Adam suggested that Kramer go back to the Corps of Engineers to explore other options, Kramer warned that the delay would be too much for the development.
"Another option is a retaining wall for the eight-thousand feet of the river but you throw the whole development out," Kramer said.
Mayor Kenneth Rankle also urged the committee to accept the plans. "We started this project with one river walk on top of the floodwall so we still have that walk on top of the floodwall which gives you a great view and green space," the mayor said. A second multi-purpose path will be installed closer to the river but will not be surrounded by as much green space as some believed after seeing the renderings.
"The part they're talking about is actually below the multi-purpose trail. It's used to clean out gravel receptacles down there. It's a walking path but it's not going to be the most pleasing walking path because people will use the ones up on top more than anything else. You're gonna have the riprap below. Every recommendation the Corps of Engineers has made to us, they're not going to change."
City Administrator Dennis Redmond also urged approval.
"What I think you need to do is approve it with reservation and the reservation is, I think there ought to be some more better access to the actual river and that's the thing that the development is going to have to do," Redmond said. "As this goes on, I think they will be able to do that but if you deny this tonight and you have a right, you may be talking about nine to ten months before it comes back to you. What happens in nine or ten months? Well, I can tell you what won't happen. There are eight lots sold. Finished. Money transferred into the bank. Not almost sold. Sold."
Redmond said that the approval should be made so that the already-sold lots can be developed and asked that the developer be brought back to the table to explore its green space options later.
The planning and zoning committee unanimously approved the decision with reservations.
"I've sat on this board over thirty years and we've been talking about below the river for over twenty," said Chairman Monty Rogers. "This is the closest we've ever been. Usually they come in with their great big plans and you never see them again. This time we got a chance to maybe get it started."
Another change initiated by Tuesday's meeting was the changing of Fifth Avenue from a one-way street to two-way for one block where it intersects with O'Fallon. A traffic study recommended that the road be looped to come out one way to 4th Avenue. Only that one block of Fifth would eb changed.
Story & photo by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News