Rockford Showcases Its Riverfront In New Davis Park Plan

Feb 5, 2016

There are big plans for an important part of Rockford’s downtown. Thursday night, the public gathered at Memorial Hall to hear about the future of Davis Park.

Right now, the riverfront park is known as a place to catch an outdoor concert, attend a festival, watch movies in the summer, maybe skate in the winter. New plans for the five and a half acre park go beyond the special uses. Todd Cagnoni is director of community and economic development for the city of Rockford and says he’s most excited about “not the details of all the projects, but the opportunity to have that park activated on a daily basis.”

And that means drawing people to the park for the nature and art-heavy walking paths. For lunch from a food truck. To spend some time sunning on a “beach.” And everything takes advantage of its location along the Rock River. Frank Schier is founder of the Rock River National Water Trail and likes the environmentally-focused design. Runoff will be filtered through sand, rain gardens, and floating wetlands before it dumps into the river.  He says “It’s very very impressive and very much up to state of the art sustainability standards.”

The three-phase makeover is estimated at ten million dollars and will be presented to Rockford’s city council Monday for endorsement. The city will continue to look for public and private funding for what could be a 15 year project.

The plan also incorporates the planned 67-million dollar hotel adjacent to Davis Park, but doesn’t depend on it. The full plan is available on the city’s website.