Some changes are coming for the Village of East Davenport, specifically to Gildea's Pocket Park.
After more that 40 years, the park will be turning into a beer garden by the owner of 11th Street Precinct Bar & Grill. The park has been used for nativity scenes, petting zoos and lunch breaks by many. That's already changing, with construction underway.
Bill Sheeder, the owner of the restaurant Baked, tells KWQC his restaurant is just a few doors down from the pocket park. "Everybody likes it how it is. It’s the reason the Village is the Village."
The park on the corner of 11th Street and Mound was bought in the 1970's by Paul Cunnick for his wife, Dorothy Gildea. Sheeder says Cunnick bought the park because it reminded the couple of similar ones they'd seen in Europe, and they wanted to share with the public. In the park, the community comes together to plant flowers and maintain it. There's a little library where you can drop off or pick up a book.
Sheeder says the park is crucial to the Village, "it's one of the most essential landmarks here that drew me when I first moved here to this little spot. We’d walk our dogs down there and have lunch. That’s one of the things we’d do. It's a very big landmark in the East Village."
The park has created memories for many residents, including Martha O'Brien who manages Wide Rivery Winery. "Before we even opened this location, my niece and her daughter would come down and enjoy the pocket park. It has a nice charm to it."
Gildea passed away two years ago. Recently, the park has been sold to John Wiser, who will turn the park into a beer garden.
Sheeder says he was surprised to see the park sell because he didn't know Gildea's son was selling it. Sheeder says he and many other business owners would have bought it to make sure it was kept as a park, "It was great how it was. It was unique. That’s why her husband bought it for her. It was a pocket park, a little corner in a retail area where you could sit and have lunch. It meant a lot. Obviously it meant a lot to her!"
"It’s certainly charming. Pocket parks are quickly becoming a thing of the past and it's held a lot of charm. It’s nice and I hear we’re gonna miss it," shares O'Brien.
The City of Davenport's Design Review Board says Lindsay Park which is one block down the street provides enough open space for the village. They go on to say the addition of the beer garden will "further activate" the corner.