By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald
---- — CAMANCHE — Several of Clinton and Clinton County's leaders gathered with residents Wednesday to discuss a main artery of the Gateway area — the Great River Road.
Byway planners David Dahlquist and Breann Bye hosted the meeting, presenting guests with history and facts about the Great River Road, and offering an inside look at a corridor management plan that is being developed to improve the Iowa and national byway.
"This is about the future of the Great River Road," Dahlquist said.
Many guests at Wednesday's meeting were engaged with sharing their concerns and suggestions for marketing the 326-mile highway that connects 10 counties in Iowa.
A panel of six byway stakeholders also joined the conversation including Clinton County Conservation Director Walt Wickham, Clinton Councilwoman Julie Allesee and Sawmill Museum Director Matt Parbs, driving major issues like appropriate signage and resource conservation to the core of improvements needed on the river highway.
"I think it's the partnerships that are key," Parbs said. "There's these real things all up and down the Great River Road that through better integration we can start to riding traffic and telling people not only why you should come once, but come many, many times."
Clinton City Administrator Jessica Kinser, Upper Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Refuge Manager Ed Britton and Clinton business owner Chad Jensen also joined in the stakeholder panel offering additional perspective to the management plan of the Great River Road.
Out of the meeting and the panel came one general consensus though. In order to take advantage of one of world's largest tourist attractions — the Mississippi River — promotion of the Great River Road is essential.
"The Great River Road really is a conduit to connecting Clinton," Kinser said. "I don't think we've ever, as a community, talked about it in that way, and I think we need to have more of that conversation."
During the meeting, Dahlquist and Bye also presented the results of a year-long survey of both residents who live near the Great River Road and visitors who choose the scenic byway as their vacation spots.
The results revealed a number of informative figures including the majority of visitors that travel to the area do so because it is listed as a national scenic byway and offers historical areas and 70 percent of residents feel tourism is either very important or extremely important to the local economy.
Another highlighted survey result revealed that 97 percent of visitors reported having their trip expectations either exceeded or met and 70 percent of visitors are repeat visitors.
"We are more than being on somebody's bucket list," Dahlquist said.