Park Board approves Riverfront Master Plan; Leenerts to replace Frankenhoff as president

Don Hilgenbrinck, director of business services, swears in members of the Quincy Park District's Board of Commissioners during its May meeting on Wednesday, May 12. Standing are Patty McGlothlin, left, and John Frankenhoff, while Barb Holthaus has her back to the camera. Seated is Roger Leenerts, who was elected as the board president during the meeting. Also sworn in as a commissioner was J. David Gilbert, not pictured.

QUINCY — The Riverfront Master Plan has cleared its final hurdle.

The plan, which calls for $40 million to $50 million to be spent in a phased approach, was approved by a 6-1 vote Wednesday by the Quincy Park District Board of Commissioners during its monthly meeting. The Adams County Board and the Quincy City Council took similar action last month.

Potential riverfront projects include a scenic overlook using the Quincy Memorial Bridge, a riverboat dock, courtesy docks and further development of the Bill Klingner Trail. The footprint of the plan stretches from Kentucky Street north to Broadway and onto Bob Bangert Park and west from Third to the river’s edge. The core area is identified in an area bordered by the riverfront, Broadway, Fourth and York. 

“We knew the public was supporting it, but it’s nice to have it official,” said Maggie Strong, a consultant for the Quincy Next Strategic Plan. “Now we take the next step, and I think that’s getting the steering committee back together. They’ve indicated that they would be willing to continue to serve and lead. Then we need to talk about governance and what this might look like, and we can officially talk about funding opportunities and all of that.”

Before voting, commissioners wanted to make sure they were clear that the Park District has not committed any money to any project.

“I understand we’re not locked into 100 percent of this plan, correct? It can be changed over time,” commissioner J. David Gilbert said.

“We’re not locked into 1 percent of this plan,” commissioner Nathan Koetters said.

Commissioners Patty McGlothlin and Jeff Steinkamp discussed how the plan calls for the search for federal, state and private funding for any project, and that any kind of tax increase that would be suggested would first be put to a public vote.

“Now we have a plan for the future,” executive director Rome Frericks said, “but you don’t really have to do anything right now.”

The board approved the plan by a 6-1 vote, with commissioner John Frankenhoff the only no vote. He explained why he is critical of the plan during the April board meeting. He did not elaborate further on Wednesday.

Gilbert, Frankenhoff, McGlothlin and Barb Holthaus were sworn in by Don Hilgenbrinck, director of business services. Frankenhoff, McGlothlin and Holthaus were re-elected in the April 6 election, while Gilbert was elected to replace Vicki Dempsey on the board.

When the election of board officers started, Steinkamp immediately nominated Frankenhoff to return as president. The motion was seconded by Koetters. Frankenhoff has been the board president since replacing Bob Gough in 2019. He is the board’s longest serving commissioner at 20 years.

However, Frankenhoff had talked during the days before the meeting about throwing his support for the presidency to Roger Leenerts. He also volunteered to be on the finance committee.

“I was really wanting to step down,” Frankenhoff said during the meeting. “I’m surprised that Jeff nominated me. If you have confidence in my leadership, I will do it. If you choose me, I wouldn’t regret it. But I don’t know what to say. I’m caught a little off guard.”

McGlothlin nominated Leenerts and added, “Maybe I should have talked to some of you before the meeting.”

Leenerts said he “didn’t want to compete against” Frankenhoff. When Steinkamp asked Frankenhoff if he was comfortable relinquishing the presidency, Frankenhoff said yes. Steinkamp withdrew his nomination. Holthaus was re-elected as vice president.

“It was just time for a change,” Frankenhoff said. “The board as a whole is very experienced, and Roger is very capable of stepping up. It just seemed like the right time for me to step down. I’ve heard people say they think I’m leaving the board, but I’m still going to be here. I’m not going anywhere. I’m just changing roles and maybe not have to put quite as much time into it.”

Frankenhoff admitted his stance against the Riverfront Master Plan played “somewhat of a factor” in his decision to not seek the presidency.

“But it’s certainly not the major part of it,” he said.

Leenerts noted during the meeting that he never ran for commissioner with the intent of becoming president.

“You’re going to work hard and try to contribute in the best way you can,” he said. “So for me, this is a way I can contribute for the next 12 months. It’s a really good group working together. We don’t always agree on things, but we try to figure out how to come up with the best solution.”

The Park District is still trying to find the best solution for the Art Keller Marina. Commissioners asked last year to seek privatization proposals, but none were received by a January deadline. 

Matt Higley, director of parks, reported a loss of $4,034 at the marina in 2019 and a loss of $10,591 in 2020. The 2021 budget projects a loss of $30,419. Boat slip rentals have decreased more than 45 percent since 2011.

A special meeting is set for 6 p.m. May 26 at the Park District office, 1231 Bonansinga Drive, to entertain ideas about what to do with the marina before a second request for proposals is made.

“If 70 people show up, OK, there’s a lot of interest here. We can work with this, and we can get ideas to get something fixed,” Koetters said. “If three people show up, well, obviously these people aren’t invested. And if they’re not invested, the taxpayer shouldn’t be invested and continue subsidizing this.”

Other items of note:

  • Mike Bruns, director of program services, reported more than 1,000 children are playing in the Park District’s youth baseball, softball and T-ball leagues. He noted additional sections of archery classes will be offered, and more than 170 kids have signed up for the Summer Adventure program. 
  • George Schrage is the new assistant director of golf at Westview Golf Course.
  • Higley reported that work on the abutment and asphalt replacement on 39th Street near Wavering Park was nearly complete. He said striping work is being done on the parking lot at 1820 Quintron Way that is expected to alleviate the crowded parking at Bob Mays Park. He added that work on the Berrian Park basketball court project continues.
  • Marcelo Beroiza, marketing operations director, said a pedestrian/cyclist counter is installed on the Bill Klingner Trail. In a recent 2½ day span, 1,738 people were counted along the nearly 3-mile trail. “We know (the trail) is being used, but numbers like this make a powerful statement,” he said.
  • At the conclusion of the meeting, commissioners visited the Villa Kathrine, which has undergone more than $100,000 worth of renovations and improvements since the fall of 2019.

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