Waynedale Political Commentaries


I’ve been encouraged by the progress we’re seeing with the Riverfront Development Study. The public has rallied behind this important initiative that could have a lasting impact on the City of Fort Wayne. The Riverfront Study is an example of the excitement and positive momentum that we’re seeing in our community.

The City’s riverfront consultant, SWA Group, recently unveiled the latest version of proposed ideas. The draft plan calls for a focus on nature, recreation and development with construction of a riverfront promenade being the first phase of the plan.

The promenade would be located on both the north and south banks of the St. Marys River. It would incorporate two levels, one lower to the water and one higher that would connect to shopping, dining and residential areas along Superior Street. Rooftop terraces and pedestrian bridges would also be part of the promenade area, as would Headwaters Junction, a rail-themed attraction and home to the historic 765 steam locomotive.

Another key element of the draft plan includes expanding Lawton Park into an active adventure area for all ages. A beach area would be built and would include water features and activities such as sand volleyball. A portion of Fourth Street would be closed and Tennessee Avenue would be extended to provide access to the park, with an adventure playground. The playground could include elements such as a “rubber band” maze, climbing nets, unique treehouses, and giant slides and swings. A BMX bowl and expanded skate park are all part of the proposals. The Old Fort would be enhanced with access to the river, an event lawn and pedestrian bridges.

In addition, there would be a focus on the confluence of the St. Marys, St. Joseph and Maumee rivers. SWA Group proposes lit pedestrian bridges that would form a sphere of light, adding emphasis to the beauty and importance of the area.

The Guildlin and Bloomingdale parks area would focus on connections to nature. Natural habitat would be restored, wetlands created, the boat launch improved and a new boat launch built. Paths and boardwalks would allow people to get close to wildlife. The central piece of the area would be an Urban Ecology Center, which could be created through a partnership with IPFW. The Ecology Center would be home to research, as well as public events and educational activities.

“We can’t implement everything that’s being proposed,” said Pam Holocher, deputy director of Community Development. “We have to consider costs and feasibility, which will be done in the next phase of work. It will be critical to prioritize the elements that are most important to the community.”

We recognize this will take time. We know that public and private sector investment will be critical to making significant changes. We’re focused on ensuring that public-private partnerships help drive the process. Fort Wayne is a regional and national leader in economic development, business and job growth, strong neighborhoods, and quality of life amenities. Developing and enhancing our riverfront area is a key tool in our efforts to continue to build on those successes.

The final plan is expected to be unveiled in January 2015. If you’d like to stay connected to the Riverfront Fort Wayne initiative, please visit www.RiverfrontFW.org and sign up for the electronic newsletter. You can also visit the Envision Fort Wayne Center, 916 S. Calhoun St., Tuesdays-Fridays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Tom Henry - Fort Wayne Mayor

A lifelong Fort Wayne resident, Mayor Thomas C. Henry is committed to public and community service. He was elected to his first term as Fort Wayne's Mayor November 6, 2007. Mayor Henry authors the "Message from the Mayor" column. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer