Two riverfront designs were presented to select members of the community this week, so they could give feedback before the final plan is presented at the St. Joseph City Council meeting in late February.
Both designs included a marina, RV park and wetland renovations.
The trail-themed design came with ideas like cabins, an aerial tree walk, large event lawn with stepped seating and pickleball and sand volleyball added to Heritage Park. The northern riverfront connection came from County Line Road.
The water-themed design paired the marina with a restaurant overlooking the river, and it also included a boat ramp and fuel dock. That plan harnessed some of the river to create a water recreational lake fit with fishing, kayaking, rentable cabins and watersports. It also had a tree walk, but included a zip-line. The northern riverfront connection came from Cook Road.
“A lot of great ideas, and the thing that excites me the most is there’s private money standing in line, ready to invest,” Mayor Bill McMurray said. “We are actually going to do something, you know, come hell or high water, we’ll probably see both before we get it done.”
Both plans featured “Robidoux Landing” as the respective headquarters, because the trail center is located there, which is the same place as the current southern entry for the Riverwalk Trail, where Francis Street meets the river under the Interstate 229 double-decker bridge.
Robidoux’s first trading post in St. Joseph was closer to the Remington Nature Center in the 1820s. One of his later posts moved closer to the Robidoux Landing location under the I-229 bridge.
Kenneth Reader of Public Citizens Local Association was a critic of the City Council’s decision in spending $150,000 on the riverfront study by SWT Design. He remains a critic of both plans, and wants a design that already has shown success on the Missouri River.
“The one in South Sioux City, Iowa is a perfect example of what we’re missing out on,” Reeder said.
That one has hundreds of boat slips for docking, as opposed to the 20 or so slips of the current plans.
Part of the riverfront development is dependent on the future of I-229 bridge, which could be decided and implemented over the next 10 years. The Missouri Department of Transportation is conducting studies on future transportation before making any decisions.
Members of the community interested in sharing their opinions on the riverfront development “can call the mayor’s office, I’d be happy to talk to anybody about it,” McMurray said. “This is not a done deal, we’re in the early stages.”