Two of the Quad Cities are sharing a national award being presented today at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, underway in Los Angeles. Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois, are being named the most livable small towns in America. Davenport Mayor Ed Winborn is in L.A. to accept the award and credits the two cities’ "RiverVision" project, which focuses on bolstering the riverfront areas and the downtowns.
Mayor Winborn says three different Davenport parks are being developed along the river with water features. Last year, they put in a major skate park and this year, they built basketball courts, "so it’ll be a very usable area for citizens of both sides of the river and also visitors." Rock Island and Davenport are combining forces next week for the "Red, White and BOOM!" celebration on July 4th by merging fireworks shows using one floating launch point in the middle of the river.
Winborn says the Mississippi River doesn’t divide the two cities — it unites them. Mayor Winborn says: "We do work together very well. The mayors are actually friends (laughs) and we have our times that we have differences or compete with each other, but in general, we work together very well." The award recognizes cities with populations under 100-thousand and was decided by an independent panel of judges, many of whom are former mayors.
Winborn says, "It’s a great shot in the arm for our area. We lost 27,000 jobs back in the 80s and actually I think we’re still somewhat recovering so the fact that Davenport and Rock Island are the most liveable small cities in the United States is a huge, huge award." Some 200 other smaller cities were in competition for the award. Miami won the version for big cities.