City Council notes – 2/16/2010

The Fort Wayne City Council

Notes from yesterday’s Fort Wayne City Council Committee Session meeting.

All Council members are present.

The Council is voting on the Council”s appointment to the Fort Wayne-Allen County’s Economic Alliance.  Councilman Tom Didier had been appointed, however, is unable to fulfill the time requirements.  Councilman Mitch Harper has been re-elected to the position.

S-10-02-02

Councilwoman Liz Brown has asked if the DID will be taking on more responsibilities with the Three Rivers Festival. He is responding they have given some proposals to the TRF Board and want to think how it will be handled in the future with regards to public input.

Councilman Tim Pape is stating some have suggested not having the TRF this year to regroup.  He said the TRF week is the worst for downtown restaurants.

Passed 7-1.  Councilwoman Brown opposed and Councilwoman Karen Goldner abstained.

S-10-02-03 and S-10-02-04

John Samspon, CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and Andi Udris, director of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance are speaking before the Council.  New Haven has been added to the Alliance.

Udris is talking about the Board’s decision to acquire a 500 acre parcel.  They are also working on bringing intermodal/transportation facilities to the area.  He also feels US 30 to Chicago needs improvement.

Councilman Tom Didier is asking what young professionals are looking for downtown.  Andi’s experience tells him apartments downtown.  IPFW will be doing a survey to gather information. Didier is asking if we have the right jobs.  Andi’s response is that we have been too long dependent on manufacturing jobs.  Growth in the US is in knowledge-based technology.  IPFW does not have a doctorate program in research and development.  Engineering area and R&D areas are needed.

Councilman Shoaff – How do you see the needs of downtown in attracting young people?  Response – it’s central to the area.  There’s a high number of apartments and buildings that could be converted to apartments.  Could also increase the number of restaurants and hot spots.

Councilwoman Liz Brown is asking if Udris is anticipating budget cuts.  He is responding no, that economic development is necessary, especially in tough times.  He feels his staff of 8 does a great job providing services for the area covered vs 200 that Cincinnati has.  Udris also mentioned that he’d like to see the downtown riverfront developed.

Councilwoman Hines is asking about Orthopaedic industry and what is being done to attract it. Again, Udris is talking about the need for R&D and Engineering Doctorate programs.  Hines is asking about marketing of assets.  We wired the community years ago, how are we marketing that now?  Udris is responding it’s already old technology.  What existing relationship is there to develop that new technology.  Udris is talking about the transition in the marketing place, ie: Centennial and Verizon’s sale to Frontier.  This is the birthplace of the wireless community.  Working with the defense clusters.

Councilman Bender is asking, of the budget, what are other government entities contributing? Response - Allen County – $200,000; Chamber – 2000,000 Dekalb and Lagrange Counties 125,000 and 155,000; Goldstine Foundation $185,000; New Haven $20,000.

Councilwoman Karen Goldner is asking who in government can go and talk with businesses?  John Urbahns is responding Elissa McGauley is the primary contact, with another in the small business center.  Before The Alliance was developed, there were only one or two who could speak with businesses.  Almost all businesses that receive tax abatements receive services through The Alliance.  Without The Alliance, companies would be left to figure out the processes for themselves.  He is equating this to taxes and the fact that most do not do their own taxes. Although I have heard banks say they are ready to loan, I have not seen a lot of loans from banks come through lately.

Goldner has asked for an update on Navistar.  The plant in Illinois, those surrounding it and the community that are there are advocating for the company to remain here.  He is in contact with Navistar.  They have made the decision, however, that they want everyone in Chicago under the same umbrella.  Good news is the project does seem to be getting bogged down.  Money available through the TIFF in Illinois has been reduced.

Urbahns is talking about the City’s abatements are kept separate from The Alliances.  The Alliance only takes credit for those projects where they were involved from beginning to end.

Councilman Pape – is pointing out it’s important for the community to know that the local economic development team has been working on this for years, knowing the market would change.  Udris is talking about the great work his predecessor, Rob Young had put into Navistar.

John Sampson with the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership is before the Council.  He views the NIRP’s job as retention.  Marketing is part of attracting future jobs, but the retention is bigger.  Most companies looking to locate would rather work with larger groups, like the State or Regional partnerships, rather than individual communities.  In working with one company, Fort Wayne ended up being number two to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Sampson is talking about the risk for developers to enter into private negotiations and need for property control by public entities.  Founded in 2006, raised almost $8 million.  (6:28).  There is now 6 ready sites in the area.

Councilwoman Brown is asking what a published project means. (6:30)

There are 6 sites ranging from 10 to 200 acres in 10 counties.  Samspon – “There is no perfect site to develop.”  Park 30 in Whitley County is shown more often than not because of the work that has been done there.  It is close to 200 acres, about 60% occupied and closest to modern requirements.  Would like to see areas of up to 500 acres.  Udris advice to Allen County – 1) large industry site, close to airport, rail and interstate.  2) Also need distribution and warehousing space.  Then the Sweetwater type, which is premiere, trees, sidewalks and such.  He thinks The Alliance should get into revenue-generating projects.  He hopes Allen County will have three sites this year.

Udris is talking about landbanking properties downtown, so they are available.

Both passed, 9-0.

S-10-02-05 – passed, 9-0.

S-10-02-08 – Fort Wayne Fire Department Chief Pete Kelly is before the Council.  (6:46)

Councilman Pape is asking if there are any concerns with having one less firefighter on the scene or not having another piece of equipment on scene.  Kelly views this as an option to keep costs down.  Now, have 5 firefighters with 2 drivers, in future, 5 firefighters with only 1 driver.  This is the trend.  It will be evaluated to see if it works properly.

Passed, 9-0.

S-10-02-09 – Replacement vehicles for various departments.  32 vehicles are for police officers that have been on force for 2 years and who are now eligible for their own vehicles.  Vehicles being replaced are between 100,000 and 140,000 miles.

Councilman Pape is asking about delaying.  Response is that some have been delayed already with the residual values being  reduced and increased maintenance costs.

Passed, 9-0.

R-10-02-06 and R-10-02-07 – The property being disposed was acquired for a new fire station. However, construction and new developments have rendered the property unsuitable for a fire station.  The property to be acquired is for the new fire station.

Both passed, 8-1 – Harper opposed.

R-10-02-01 – Look for a recap of this issue later this evening.

Passed, 9-0.

Councilwoman Brown is asking Council to consider captioning Council meetings on their telecasts.

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