But the story fails to mention that this is the fourth or fifth design for the park since 1987. I wrote about this park almost four years ago. When the story came out, the Port Authority Director Pat Sterritt complained to me (in a very nice way; he's a super nice guy) that I didn't pay enough attention to all the positive things that were happening down there on the riverfront. And it's true. Near the end of the article I cavalierly tossed in these details:
Other ideas hatched years ago are finally beginning to crystallize. A few weeks ago, Port Authority officials cut the ribbon on a hip-looking pedestrian walkway stretching over the river's edge. It cost a little more than $4 million to build and was paid for with money from the casino lease, an insurance settlement and several state and federal grants.
By next summer, that bridge is supposed to be connected to Berkley Park by a serpentine bike path, promises Sterrett. (It will cost $908,000 and be paid for with city and federal funds.) In between, on a lot overrun with cracked asphalt and tall weeds, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to use $2.8 million in federal funds to create a wetlands with ponds and footpaths, also expected to be open by next summer. And Port Authority officials hope to announce in a few weeks the long-awaited addition of a boat ramp downstream.
And, yes, four years later, there is a bike path between the bridge and the park. But it has been blocked off by a locked gate every time I've been down there in the last three years.
And the wetlands? Nope. It's still a field of cement with stubborn weeds popping out here and there.
I'm not sure, but I don't think there's a boat ramp either.
But here's the thing I really don't get. When I wrote my story, I revealed that three separate design companies had proposed an amphitheater, the most recent being Kansas City's Bucher, Willis & Ratliff, in 2000. This Star story says the newest design was "prepared by Civitas Inc. of Denver and Atelier Dreiseitl, a German firm."
I'm beginning to suspect that this park is less about being a park than it is about providing pretty "we're making progress" pictures to the Star. Which would be fine, I guess, if those pretty pictures didn't cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. And if it didn't mean we're not even as cool as Davenport, Iowa, when it comes to embracing our riverfront.