Driving through downtown has become a more and more exciting experience recently. The improvements in the Grand Wayne Center and the Allen County Public Library (and its branches) are proceeding at an amazing pace. These projects are a part of a $100 million city and county government and private investment in Fort Wayne’s downtown. These projects and others, I believe, help spur increasing private investment in the heart of our city—the downtown. The city is eager to work with any private investor willing to start a business in the downtown area. Now is the time—rather than waiting a few years into the future when property values are increasing steadily during what I feel will be a rebirth of the central city.
While I’m discussing what is basically an economic development issue it’s a good time to also mention another project which is predicted to create 500 new jobs—the rebirth of the old Southtown Mall site. The new entrances off U.S. Highway 27 will be constructed this year and groundbreaking for the new Menard’s site is also planned for 2005. The Mayor has done a great job of keeping the Southtown project on track despite many obstacles including legal hassles from the current property and a fair amount of City Council nitpicking over minor details. “Big Box” retailers, as well as, smaller businesses, are expressing interest in opening the stores at Southtown. As the old saying goes, “The South Shall Rise Again.”
I’ve received some calls, e-mails, and letters regarding possible future construction of dikes to prevent flooding of neighborhoods near the Saint Mary’s River and the Fairfield Ditch. Some homeowners appreciate the fact that dikes are being considered by the Army Core of Engineers; others are concerned that dikes that protect another neighborhood may push storm water onto their property. The dike project that was completed in response to the flood of 1982 took 20 years to complete. I’ve been assured by Fort Wayne’s flood fighters such as Kim Stier that there will be plenty of opportunity for citizen input prior to finalization of any major new flood control plan.
As we all know, government finances are very tight at the national, state, and local level. Our city is coping with less and less financial assistance from the U.S. Government and the State of Indiana, the mayor, yours truly, and several City Council members are doing all we can to encourage a fair tax structure which doesn’t answer these challenges by shifting the tax burden to property taxpayers who are often very elderly and on fixed incomes.
Give me a call with any concerns or constructive suggestions. Enjoy any warm days that we’re lucky enough to experience this month.
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