By Dawn Rosemond
At first glance, the City of Fort Wayne’s Riverfront Study may seem like something that has nothing to do with you. I mean, if you don’t play and travel on our rivers or live around them, you’re likely questioning right now if you should keep reading this. Yes, you should. Please keep reading. Why? Because the City of Fort Wayne’s Riverfront Study and corresponding riverfront development plan affects us all and could mean everything from more jobs, trails and shops to more natural habitat, cleaner river water and more tourism—a.k.a., a better Fort Wayne!
Riverfront development is extremely complicated, so to help tackle the topic, the City of Fort Wayne hired the world-renowned SWA Group. SWA is researching and considering all aspects of plans to enhance our riverfronts. They are looking at development’s effects on natural habitat, river water quality, nearby neighborhoods, economic development, traffic, flooding, recreation, tourism, housing and more.
Again, the plan SWA eventually creates will impact almost everyone who lives and works in our community. For example, new businesses along the riverfront and increased tourism could boost the local economy and provide you or someone you know with a job. Or, greater emphasis on cleaning up water that flows through the St. Joseph and St. Mary’s river watersheds could improve river water quality right here in Fort Wayne. And riverfront development could impact your life by giving all of us more opportunities to experience new cultures, music, arts or recreational activities.
Finally, an enhanced downtown riverfront will be a catalyst for moving our community from good to great. A vibrant and exciting riverfront district could provide Fort Wayne with a singular identity and attract significant private investment. And it could help our City compete with some of the nation’s most progressive and attractive communities for jobs, talented workers, and convention and tourism business.
All this potential will never become reality without you. We need local residents from all backgrounds to answer the question “What do you want to see along the riverfront?” Plainly, Fort Wayne is your city so we want to hear what’s important to you and your family. Your voice matters! City staff are already cataloging hundreds of answers to this question and passing the information along to SWA, so please let yourself be heard.
To get started, go to www.RiverfrontFW.org and answer the online poll questions or submit an idea by clicking on the “share your comments” button. Another great way to learn and express your opinions about the Riverfront Study is to visit the Envision Fort Wayne Center, 916 S. Calhoun St., which is open 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Fridays. The Center is a place for residents to drop in and discover the history of Fort Wayne’s rivers as well as examine their future potential as a regional destination.
And, be sure to mark your calendar for the next round of public meetings, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 23 and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday, July 24. Both meetings will take place in the theater of the downtown Allen County Public Library. During the meetings SWA will present draft concepts and ask for public reaction to those concepts. Please join us for the meetings and share your vision for a downtown riverfront that will make all of us proud.
Thank you! A stronger and more vibrant Fort Wayne is good for everyone, including you and me and residents throughout northeast Indiana.
Dawn Rosemond is a member of the Mayor’s Riverfront Advisory Committee.