The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Chuck Swore had dam idea first; he lives, though another Chuck occupies his former council seat

In Chuck Swore, Chuck Wieneke, City Hall, Downtown District on May 14, 2008 at 5:29 pm

The City Council this evening is expected to pick between two accomplished design firms for the job of creating a master plan for one of the council’s top priorities — riverfront redevelopment.

In front of the council last week, one of the design firms, Sasaki Associates Inc., Watertown, Mass., took a risk and showed off some concepts for how the riverfront could change.

They talked about turning First Avenue West along the river into a “great boulevard” with trees on each side and in the middle and how multistory buildings would go up on the west side of the boulevard and face the river.

They also had a pretty image of an open-air riverfront amphitheater, on the west side of the river, just upriver from the Police Department.

It was the third idea and image that had some on the council remembering former District 4 council member Chuck Swore without even mentioning him by name.

That idea, which Gina Ford from Sasaki even called kind of out there, involved moving the dam above the downtown to below the downtown. Such a move would raise the level of the Cedar River through the downtown and create a still pool of water there. People then could the river right in the downtown for boating and even skating in winter, was the thought. Raising the river, too, would make people actually see the river. Now, it is mostly out of sight as it runs through downtown, Ford and her colleague, Mark Dawson said.

Swore on numerous occasions talked about the very idea of a dam below the downtown that would raise the water level up in the downtown.

In recent days, Swore, though, said he would keep the present dam in place and build a new dam further downriver to accomplish the task.

By the way, Swore reports he’s doing fine. Even in his council campaign last year, he was excited about the idea of a new museum in the city to memorialize the city’s contribution to engineering and science — Art Collins and all that.

And don’t be surprised to see that idea emerge at some point. Swore also is working with a local developers’ group, pushing its ideas.

Swore served two years on the city’s first council under the city’s new council/manager government. He was defeated last fall for the west-side District 4 council seat by Chuck Wieneke.



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