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Mayor Henry announces progress being made in City’s riverfront development efforts

Mayor Tom Henry today announced positive progress is being made in the City of Fort Wayne’s riverfront development efforts, including the first grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne.

Mayor Henry was joined by community leaders to provide a status report on the initial steps being taken to enhance the City’s riverfront. At the same time, Jane Gerardot, chairperson of the board of directors of the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, announced an initial grant of $42,000 for a riparian development master plan.

At the request of Mayor Henry at his State of the City Address, a Riverfront Implementation Committee has been working to coordinate the riverfront plan and is focusing on a series of initiatives to move riverfront development forward.

Highlights of next steps in the riverfront plan:
*Property appraisals
*Environmental studies
*Development of riparian plan for maintenance/riverbank cleanup/implementation
*Perform soil boring work along the riverfront to assess any challenges that may exist
*Planning for special programming to include a variety of activities along the riverfront *Engineering and design contracts for promenade
*Headwaters Junction feasibility study
*Ecology Center feasibility study
*Property acquisition

To make the next steps in the riverfront plan possible, the City Administration will request $6 million in Legacy funding. The City’s funding request will provide a budget for portions of riverfront development work for the next two years and will be introduced to City Council on Tuesday, April 28. Discussion and possible passage of the request will occur at City Council on Tuesday, May 12.

“I’m encouraged by the continued excitement and momentum we’re experiencing as we come together to make riverfront development a top priority,” said Mayor Henry. “We believe the next steps that have been laid out will position us for future economic growth and an enhanced quality of life for everyone as we collaborate to make our riverfront a lasting legacy for our community.”

The Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne is a partner with the City to develop the riverfront. The Community Foundation has committed to providing $3 million toward the riverfront implementation efforts.
“We are pleased to provide funding for a riverfront riparian plan,” said Gerardot. “This is the Community Foundation’s first grant as part of our $3 million commitment to riverfront development efforts. The Community Foundation grant will fund a riparian plan that will be used to guide best practices for riverbank cleanup, including steps to restore and maintain biodiversity.”

In addition, the City will apply to be considered to receive $3 million from the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board (CIB) to be used for property acquisition for riverfront development. The proposal will be presented at the CIB’s next meeting.

Riverfront development will also be a key component of the region’s application for Regional Cities funding under consideration by the Indiana General Assembly.

In February, the City’s riverfront consultant, SWA Group, completed the City’s first-ever riverfront study and recommended building a waterfront promenade as the first phase of enhancements to Fort Wayne’s downtown riverfront. Work by the Riverfront Implementation Committee has focused on the first phase of the promenade on the south side of the St. Marys River.

Leaders continue to emphasize that development along the rivers will take time. Potential projects will be done in phases over decades. Public-private partnerships will need to be formed for initiatives to get started and be successful.

Riverfront Implementation Committee members:
*Karl Bandemer, Deputy Mayor, City of Fort Wayne
*Wendell Bontrager, Old National Bank
*Bill Brown, Downtown Improvement District
*Pam Holocher, Deputy Director, Community Development, City of Fort Wayne
*Greg Leatherman, Director, Community Development, City of Fort Wayne
*Al Moll, Director, Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation
*Dan Ross, Arts United
*Tom Smith, Fort Wayne City Council
*Don Steininger, Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne
*John Urbahns, Greater Fort Wayne Inc.
*Stephanie Veit, YLNI
*Irene Walters, River advocate
*Dan Wire, River advocate

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