A recent spate of meetings sponsored by the city is shifting its planning work from municipal offices out into the neighborhoods and in front of the people of southeastern Fort Wayne.
Working with a new consulting firm on finding out what improvements the city might bring to the southern areas of the city in the future, Fort Wayne is hosting meetings for residents and neighbors on what they want.
The first meeting, or what the city is calling the “kick-off,” took place at the old K-Mart Plaza at 7500 S. Anthony Blvd., on Monday, October 21. That gathering attracted more than 200 interested citizens, according to Mary Tyndall, Fort Wayne’s Public Information Officer for Community Development.
“We had printed out about 200 surveys for the people at the meeting to fill out, and we literally ran out of them,” Tyndall said.
At the first gathering, residents were asked to share their thoughts and ideas on housing, retail, commercial, light industrial, and infrastructure needs in their area of town. Representatives from the consulting group lead the discussions and noted the ideas.
The meetings are hosted by a consulting group hired by the city to look into city improvements, YARD & Company. The firm is a consulting company based in Cincinnati, Ohio, that specializes in creating strategic visions for urban neighborhoods and commercial districts.
The October 21st event even featured door prizes and free barbecue food. “We had a very enthusiastic crowd, so it was very nice,” Tyndall said.
After the kick-off meeting, the firm held several other, smaller focus groups in other locations, and even surveyed residents out in the field about future projects, such as at Kroger and other local businesses.
The city worked on several civic improvements in the local area in the last decade. That included building more than 70 new homes in the Renaissance Point development; converting the old Coca-Cola Bottleworks into public housing; the new $42 million Scholar House; the new Urban League / Allen County Public Library / Brightpoint Campus; the new Renaissance Point Y.M.C.A.; upgrades to the McMillan Community Center; $30 million in street and sidewalk work; and more than $21 million in neighborhood water, storm water and sewer work.
“Having a growing and vibrant southeast Fort Wayne is critical to the current and future success of our community,” noted Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry. “Collectively, we’ve made positive strides, but we recognize that more needs to be done to ensure residents and neighborhoods have access to grocery stores, restaurants, and additional retail options to enhance the overall quality of life.
“We’re also committed to continuing to maximize opportunities for more jobs and businesses in southeast Fort Wayne. These upcoming neighborhood gatherings will give residents and neighborhoods a voice in helping move Fort Wayne forward in a positive direction,” the mayor said.
Tyndall noted that while the city already has its own plans for what it wants to accomplish in its southeastern quadrant, hearing from residents and neighbors can only help the process.
“This will definitely uncover some unique ideas,” Tyndall said. “And it may allow us to focus on some more specific things that we hadn’t thought of before.”