Area residents and trail enthusiasts joined Fort Wayne Deputy Mayor Karl Bandemer, members of the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission and the City of Fort Wayne’s Greenways and Trails staff recently to break ground for the Liberty Mills Road trail extension.
The half-mile long phase of the trail directly connects more than 300 residents along Liberty Mills Road and more than 2,000 residents who live within a half-mile walking distance of the trail.
“Many residents use this trail for exercise and recreation, but we know a growing number of residents are relying on our trails as a safe way to connect to area businesses and other destinations,” said Dawn Ritchie, Greenways and Trails director for the City of Fort Wayne. “This gets us closer to connecting residents to amenities they access on a daily basis. Things like a grocery, pharmacy, restaurants, a library and a higher education institution.”
Funding for the construction of this project comes from the Coventry Lane Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district. TIF districts are created to assist in the development of designated areas. They allow any new property tax revenue generated by increases in assessed value within that area to be used for public infrastructure projects, so there is no financial impact to the public. This district consists primarily of the Kroger Marketplace located in the Village of Coventry.
“Tax Increment Financing is an important tool that supports quality of life improvements and helps increase assessed value throughout our city,” said Nancy Townsend, executive director of the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission. “Improvements made by the Kroger Co. increased the assessed value of the area, which, in turn, generated more property tax revenue. That increase in revenue is paying for this trail, which benefits both the shopping center and nearby residents.”
The TIF investment for this phase of the trail construction is $263,402. Work will be performed by local contractor T-E Incorporated and is expected to be completed in November.
Once this phase of the trail is completed, there will be one more phase that will connect the trail to destination points such as the businesses at the nearby Village of Coventry. Design work for the final phase of the Liberty Mills Road Trail, connecting with Coventry Lane, will begin this fall. Construction of that phase is expected to occur in 2018.
“Strong partnerships brought this project together. In 2007, Aboite New Trails and our Greenways department funded the design and engineering work for the trail and we funded the right-of-way acquisition,” said Ritchie. “Additionally, developer William Budrow constructed a portion of the trail in front of Liberty Place on Townhouse Court. We are thrilled that the Redevelopment Commission has partnered with us on the construction phase of this trail.”
Other trail projects funded by TIF include a trail along Ice Way and the Illinois Road trail, for which construction bids will be received later this year.