Friday Mail Bag — Riverwalking

San Antonio Riverwalk

Lots of good e-mails from readers this week.

I figured I’d get slapped around pretty good after I wrote Tuesday that’s it’s way too soon to bury a proposed downtown river walk in vitriol. I thought this town’s bumper crop of government-haters would tell me to walk into the river, as soon as it thaws.

That wasn’t the case. Most messages applauded the idea and decried what they see as too much negativity on the part of critics.

“I enjoyed your column this morning.  The negativity from a small group has exacted a serious toll on this city,  and this negativity has been contagious,”  wrote Jim Wing.

Eleanor Hearst thinks if San Antonio can reap the river, why not Cedar Rapids?

“It amazes me, even after living nearly fifty years in this city, that people are so negative about everything that might cost money, yet some of those same people will spend money to go to cities that have the same amenities.  Why should San Antonio reap the benefits of a river and Cedar Rapids not enjoy the same advantages?”

Yeah, and why isn’t there a decent outdoor margarita joint around here? Maybe I’ll just use my snow-blower to mix up a pitcher.

J.T Breslin also decried what he sees as the propensity of folks around here to pour cold water on ideas, even before the details are nailed down.

“Frankly, our motto should be:  ‘Cedar Rapids, the town were ideas come to die,'” he wrote.

Not everyone was thrilled, however.

Jean Bonner of Cedar Rapids called the river walk an “old, tired concept.” And Dale Brodt pointed out, correctly, that the city already has a river walk. 

“It’s located on the west side of the river and extends from 4th Avenue across from Wells Fargo Bank to I Avenue NW.  It was created in the ’60s when flood walls downtown were rebuilt.  This river walk is probably not mentioned very often because it has NOT been well maintained by the City for a number of years.  There are planters along the walk that are not very well kept in the spring and summer and you will frequently find bird droppings that are not removed on a regular basis,” he wrote.

I’ve walked through there and he’s right. It’s trashed.

The county supervisor pay saga continued to generate mail.  

“When I was encouraged to support the added 2 supervisors I was assured that the current salaries would be divided by 5 with no increase for the 2 new ones,” wrote former CR city council member Chuck Swore. “State law needs to be changed if the only way supervisors can increase any county employees wages is to raise their own.”

My Thursday column on the apparent revival of vinyl records revived some memories.

 “Regarding your “vinyl” column today, good call.  I’ve never been able to throw mine away either.  I knew I met the “right girl” for me when I checked out my future wife’s album collection and found plenty of “Huey Lewis & the News”.  Don’t laugh…they still tour,” wrote Rich Ripley.

No chuckles here. It’s still hip to be square. Keep those letters coming.



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2 responses to “Friday Mail Bag — Riverwalking

  1. Chris

    See, here’s the problem that a lot of “big-thinkers” have in towns like Cedar Rapids and Davenport. They look at San Antonio’s riverwalk and think, “Gee, that’d be nice to have at home” and then go about trying to get other people’s money to build something. Realists look at San Antonio’s riverwalk and realize that it works because San Antonio has 1.2 million people living there and weather that makes an outdoor attraction work year round. Cedar Rapids has what, 130k people living here? And months of inclimate weather. Places like San Antonio also have tourists, real tourists not tobacco-stained gamblers, that help support these attractions. Look at all the money Davenport has spent on it’s attractions downtown. There are more tumbleweeds than paying visitors in those museums. When “big-thinkers” start scaling their big ideas to fit their small city, the people living in the city will take notice.

  2. Rodger

    Riverwalk may be a good idea, but…. it’s going to take more than I believe the Cedar Rapids City Council is willing to dish out. Both in money and time. The “stinky” river needs to be dredged to improve flow which will help diminish the stagnant pools that form every summer. Around August each year a person can’t stand to use the existing river areas because of the foul odor. The place needs to be policed on a regular basis. Trash from people fishing, dead carp rotting on the banks and the bird droppings all need to be cleaned up on a daily basis.

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