The growth of our trails network continues to position Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana as leaders in providing quality of life amenities for residents, businesses, and guests. Recently, I joined business owners, community leaders, elected officials and members of the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) to cut the ribbon and officially open two significant segments of the Pufferbelly Trail.
At 2.2 miles in length, the trail segments extend from West Fourth Street to just south of West State Boulevard and from just north of State where it branches to the Zoo and Fernhill Avenue. These portions of the Pufferbelly Trail will connect nearly 1,900 residents within a half-mile radius of the trail (1/4 mile on each side) to more than 200 businesses and organizations. The proximity includes the neighborhoods of Spy Run, Bloomingdale, Brookview Civic, Irvington, Five Points and North Franke Park.
Connectivity is highly noticeable along this section of the Pufferbelly Trail. It’s close to 186 commercial businesses and connects to destination points such as Science Central, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Foellinger Theatre, Sky Zone Trampoline Park, the SportOne Parkview Icehouse and Fieldhouse, Glenbrook Commons and Mall, and Fort Wayne’s riverfront.
The two new segments opened were grouped with two other sections of the Pufferbelly Trail to obtain Regional Cities funding provided by the IEDC. The segments included:
• Pufferbelly Trail: State Boulevard to Fourth Street
• Bluffton Road: Lower Huntington Road to West Foster Park/Rivergreenway Connector
• Pufferbelly Trail: State Boulevard to Fernhill Avenue and Franke Parke/Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
• Pufferbelly Trail: Wallen Road to Washington Center (construction of final phase between Ludwig and Washington Center is underway)
Regional Cities funding was the “last in” funding and provided the final $1.8 million needed to complete the total investment of $10.3 million needed for the four segments. Additionally, Fort Wayne Trails Inc., contributed $100,000 toward the construction of the section from State to Fernhill and the Zoo. Tax increment financing (TIF) funds approved by the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission were also an important funding source for the expansion of the Pufferbelly Trail.
The four segments total just over six miles of trail that are part of the Poka-Bache Connector, the 81-mile State Visionary Trail that will connect Ouabache State Park in Bluffton to Pokagon State Park in Angola. The new segments bring 22,688 residents within a half-mile radius of the trail network and expand the existing trail grid for all residents. I hope you get a chance to walk, run or bike one of these new trail segments soon!
Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown is Sunday, September 9 this year. If you haven’t taken advantage of this free event, I encourage you to! There are sixteen museums and attractions in Fort Wayne that you can visit for free that day by simply picking up a passport at any Kroger or Old National Bank location, or you can go to www.visitfortwayne.com and print one. If you’re interested in learning about the latest Riverfront Fort Wayne news, meet at the Lawton Park Trailhead (4th Street between Clinton and Spy Run Ave.) any time between 12 and 5 pm. There will be short 15-20 minute walking tours on the Rivergreenway—right between Science Central and the Old Fort. (Those two attractions are free September 9 as well.) On the Riverfront Fort Wayne tour, you will learn about the exciting history, wildly diverse ecology, and Phases I, II and III of Riverfront development. There will also be information about upcoming events and programs, and how you can get more involved with your rivers.
You may remember that City Utilities recently asked the public to vote for the name of the Tunnel Boring Machine, and the name chosen is MamaJo. The name is derived from taking the first two letters from Fort Wayne’s three rivers, the Ma from Marys, Ma from Maumee and Jo from Joseph. Don’t miss your chance to come out and visit MamaJo at the site of the tunnel working shaft. City Utilities will host tours on Sunday, September 9, from 11 am to 3 pm at the working shaft site near the intersection of Dwenger and Glasgow avenues. This tour is free, but it’s not part of Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown, so you won’t need a passport. More information is available at www.fortwaynetunnel.org.
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