MAMAJO, TUNNEL BORING MACHINE – Message From The Mayor

Fort Wayne City Utilities has received national recognition as a Utility of the Future in the category of Energy Generation & Recovery, for its successful power generation efforts at the Water Pollution Control Plant. City Utilities is one of only 32 utilities selected as a Utility of the Future Today. The Utility of the Future Today recognition celebrates the achievements of utilities that are transforming themselves from traditional wastewater treatment systems to resource recovery centers and are leaders in the overall sustainability and resilience of the communities they serve. It’s a true honor to receive this prestigious award. Proactive efforts that save money for ratepayers and protect the environment have a meaningful impact. It’s critical to remain committed to sustainable initiatives that will pay off today and serve our community for generations to come.

On the subject of City Utilities, the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) now has a name: MamaJo. Derived from taking the first two letters from Fort Wayne’s three rivers, the Ma from Marys, Ma from Maumee and Jo from Joseph, MamaJo seems only fitting for a project that’s had an engineer’s working title of the Three Rivers Protection and Overflow Reduction Tunnel (3RPORT). And so MamaJo becomes the protector of our rivers.

The naming of the TBM brings a little fun to an important community project that will serve our community well for generations to come. Soon, MamaJo standing at a diameter of more than 20-feet and stretching more than 400-feet in length will begin her journey. She will grind through bedrock to build a five-mile-long sewer tunnel, more than 200-feet under the earth’s surface, with an interior diameter of 16-feet. The deep-rock tunnel is a significant portion of the effort to clean-up Fort Wayne’s rivers and protects neighborhoods from basement back-ups and street flooding.

Earlier this year, City Utilities worked with neighborhood leaders and students at New Tech Academy and Towles Intermediate School to come up with possible names for the TBM. Students voted to narrow the list to four, and the community voted online to choose a winner. MamaJo was an overwhelming winner with more than 43% of the vote.

Residents of all ages are showing interest in the tunnel, and so MamaJo will host tours on Sunday, September 9, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the working shaft site near the intersection of Dwenger and Glasgow Avenue.

MamaJo is expected to start her journey and begin digging the tunnel later this year. Completion of the tunnel boring is expected by 2021, and the intricate connection to the many neighborhood sewers by in 2023. The tunnel will be operational in 2023. Residents can learn more and get tunnel updates at fortwaynetunnel.org.

Recently, I joined Parks & Recreation Director Steve McDaniel to celebrate the grand opening of the Wolf Family Learning Center at Salomon Farm Park on Dupont Road. The Learning Center added more than 4,000 square feet to a smaller facility and will offer many recreational opportunities to this popular park. The $560,000 expansion now offers a professional-grade teaching kitchen, a classroom area, fully accessible restrooms, a large gathering area and rental space for 240 people. This amenity joins historically appropriate facilities including a restored barn (popular for weddings), a farmers’ market, a historic equipment barn, a summer kitchen, blacksmith shop and much more.

This fall Salomon Farm Park will be offering school field trips, culinary classes for preschoolers, a culinary series for elementary ages, Natural Dye Workshop, Wool Applique, cocktail classes and baking classes, as well as special events including Concert on the Farm, Salomon Farm Fall Harvest Festival, Handmade Homemade Sale and the weekly Farmers’ Market. Many of these classes would not be possible without the expansion of the learning center.

The Salomon family gifted 170 acres in 1996 to the Parks and Recreation Department, with the understanding that a working 1930’s farm would be maintained. Chris, Maxine and daughter Lynne Salomon felt the land could help city kids learn the value of agriculture and could offer a respite to the busy urban area that had surrounded it. The Wolf Family Learning Center is named for a generous donor, Don Wolf, who has been involved with the planning, funding and activity at Salomon Farm Park since its inception.

We’re fortunate to live in a community that values parks and the importance of education. Our entire city is appreciative of the efforts of the Wolf family and the Salomon family. Together, they’ve made significant contributions to the quality of life we enjoy in Fort Wayne. The expanded learning center is a tremendous addition that will be enjoyed for many years to come.

If you would like to learn more about the classes and programs at Salomon Farm Park, including how to reserve the new Wolf Family Learning Center, please call the Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation Department at 260-427-6000 or log on to www.fortwayneparks.org.

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.

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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