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On the Waterfront

Posted on Jun 1, 2015, by


Our Fox Valley Region has a well-earned reputation for quality of life and community pride. We have the responsibility to build on that, and making a good thing even better takes creative thinking and fresh perspectives.

That’s why the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region sponsored the recent consulting visit by Alex Krieger, a global expert in urban design of waterfront developments with the Boston-based urban design firm NBBJ and a Harvard University professor. Community leaders in post-Katrina New Orleans, South Korea and Shanghai have turned to Krieger to design their waterfronts. Getting him here was a major accomplishment for the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway and its president, Candice Mortara

Krieger speaking

Prof. Alex Krieger

Krieger spent several days here, consulting with local officials, developers and river enthusiasts, offering creative ideas for maximizing the regional asset we all share, our Fox River.

He shared his observations in a thought-provoking presentation to a crowd of 180 people, including developers, engineers and political leaders.

Some highlights of his approach to waterfront development:

• Cities need to turn their face toward the water.
• Don’t be afraid of high-density housing in waterfront development, but insist on protecting public access to the waterfront.
• Create pedestrian loops between downtown destinations wherever possible.
• Use perpendicular traffic routes to connect the waterfront to the outlying neighborhoods.
• To get people to your newly redesigned waterfront, you need public events and activities.

His suggestions for the Fox Cities – a waterfront park here, a pedestrian bridge there – were nothing beyond what’s possible. Hear his observations first-hand in interviews on our Community Conversations show on The Avenue radio during the first three weeks of June, Saturdays at 7 a.m. or Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Listen online at

But Prof. Krieger acknowledges they are just suggestions from someone without an in-depth understanding of the community. Now it’s our turn. Thriving communities turn today’s dreams into tomorrow’s realities. We need to consider his observations and select which we do or don’t want to be part of the Fox Cities community’s future.

Curt Detjen is president/CEO of the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region.

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