JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- For the first time, the public is being given the opportunity to weigh in on what they would like to see built on the prime riverfront site that was once home to Jeffboat in southern Indiana.

The first of three public hearings was held Monday evening for residents to give their opinions on the future of the property.

The property, and the area surrounding it, that is set to be redeveloped is about 100 acres and 1-mile long sitting right on the Ohio River just outside downtown Jeffersonville. 

"We just can't let this go to waste," said neighbor Karen Goertz. "It's just too good."

Goertz lives within walking distance from the old Jeffboat site. Right now, a big, white building is what she sees outside her door. Her hope is that she won't see anything blocking the river "ever again."

"I think a lot of people haven't been able to see that view or how good it is for a long time," said Jeffersonville resident Keith Feeman.

The Carriage House, next to the Howard Steamboat Museum, was packed with residents on Monday, listening as design advisors laid out some of the characteristics of the property and some of its challenges. 

The obvious challenge is flooding, with the site being right on the Ohio River. But there's also an old railroad line that runs through part of the site. 

The land, which is owned by American Commercial Barge Line, will likely become a mix of things. Some public, some private and some commercial spaces. Most in attendance at Monday's hearing want that to include a public park and greenspace.

"This is going to be a multibillion-dollar development," Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore said. "What I would like to see on there are some aspects of that land that the public has the freedom to use."

Jeffboat is what built the city of Jeffersonville. The closure of the shipbuilder and major employer in 2018 marked the end of a 189-year history in the city.

"That site has been our history, this site is going to be our future," Moore said.

It's a history many want to make sure is honored moving forward.

"(We're) hoping that some of the vestiges of Jeffboat and the Howard Boatyard, as well, are integrated into the story of this," said Greg Sekula, southern regional director for Indiana Landmarks.

Planning consultants are still seeking public input and ideas.

"We'll never have another time for this," Goertz said. "Once this space is built on, you might have to wait another 200 years."

Monday's public meeting was the first of three. The next is planned for April and, by that time, the developer should have an actual plan for people to look at.

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