Press release from the City of Fort Wayne:
Statement of Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry on City and County building and space needs:
Thank you for coming. My challenge every day as Mayor, as an elected official, is to make life better for our citizens and to strengthen our community. That has been my sole motivation as we have explored the issue of City-County co-location. I believe my fellow Allen County and Fort Wayne elected officials share that commitment.
Last Thursday, with the vote of the Allen County Council, I sincerely believed that the dream of a joint solution to City and County building and space needs had faded.
Dreams do die, you know. Sound ideas, good plans, even our principles can die if our commitment to them is not there, if we don’t work to advance them and if local leaders don’t step up. But I am an optimist by nature.
Throughout the discouraging moments, my determination to building a more responsive and effective local government has never wavered. My desire for greater cooperation and collaboration between the City of Fort Wayne and Allen County has remained as strong as ever. We are one community. My resolve is driven by our mutual need to find community-based solutions that will save money, ensure the delivery of high-quality services to every citizen, help us weather the difficult times and thrive for generations to come.
Since my comments last Thursday, many in this community have spoken out. Elected officials, business and neighborhood leaders, people on the street, and even members of the media, have sent encouraging signals that they too believe that the goal of a common solution and greater collaboration is one that deserves our continuing effort. I agree.
I am convinced the City-County Building and 200 East Berry Street represent a one-of-a-kind opportunity to better serve the public and make the best use of our resources. I believe a unified solution will spur greater cooperation and cost savings, to the benefit of all taxpayers and residents. I am confident we can find that answer, one that will reaffirm our sense of community, even as it creates lasting value.
I’m here today to tell you that I am not done. I am not giving up. I still believe that local government can create a joint platform on which to build for the future. Today I am inviting City and County elected officials to join again in this effort.
To that end, I am calling for the formation of a task force that gives voice to all local elected decision-making bodies on this issue. This is the time for all of us to come together. It has been the missing ingredient to date.
The task force’s composition: three Allen County Council members, three Fort Wayne City Council member, all three Allen County Commissioners and myself, as Mayor. This puts every decision-making group at the table, precisely where they need to be.
John Stafford, Director of IPFW’s Community Research Institute and the able leader of City-County Facilities Working Group, has agreed to continue his efforts on this important community issue by moderating the task force. The working group model and its guiding principles will serve as the template for the task force.
I also recommend that the task force build on the solid foundation, the guiding principles and recommendations of that group. The consensus options that emerged from its recent report can serve as the starting point for the task force.
Let us seize this moment to move forward. Let us use this time wisely to envision together the common future we all will share. Let’s not allow this moment to pass. Let’s join together now to chart a new course that demonstrates powerfully that working together we are stronger, more resourceful and better able to serve this great community.