News release from the City of Fort Wayne:
Riverfront consultants propose a balance of Nature, Recreation and Development
(July 23, 2014) – Fort Wayne’s riverfront consultants met with the public this evening to present initial concepts that call for a balance of Nature, Recreation and Development along the downtown riverfront.
SWA Group was hired in November 2013 to complete a riverfront study, which will be the first comprehensive look at enhancing the city’s rivers and will provide a road map for world class investment. This is the second in a series of public meetings about the future of the downtown riverfront; the next public meetings will be in October with final study results expected in January 2015.
“It’s important to remember that the ideas presented this evening are just preliminary,” said Pam Holocher, deputy director of community development. “SWA will take what they heard from the public at meetings this evening and tomorrow and further refine their concepts in order to design a riverfront unique to Fort Wayne.”
“We’re impressed with the level of public engagement in Fort Wayne,” said Kinder Baumgardner, principal with SWA Group. “After studying hundreds of public comments and listening to local residents, one theme stands outâ€”the community wants a balance of Nature, Recreation and Development along the downtown riverfront.”
In order to provide that balance, SWA Group suggested focusing on three primary areas along the downtown riverfront.
- Lawton Park. Preliminary sketches suggest widening the St. Marys River at Lawton Park and creating a lake-like atmosphere. Lawton Park could be repurposed into an active park with options for an adventure playground, sandy area for volleyball and building sand castles, a possible Ferris wheel, porch swing grove, water features and more. An ecological area would run along Spy Run Creek.
- Bloomingdale and Guldlin parks. Bloomingdale and Guldlin parks, on the west side of the study area, would focus on natural habitat. Relocating the levee in some areas would allow people to get closer to the waterfront; docks and floating platforms could be built. Recreation such as nature walks, canoeing, kayaking and bird watching could be emphasized.
- Riverfront Promenade/Superior St. Development. Consultants suggest using a riverfront promenade to attract retail, commercial and housing development. The promenade would run along the St. Marys and connect Superior Street with Lawton Park by way of pedestrian bridges. Pop-up shops, restaurants, farmers markets and more could be located along the promenade, which would lead to a revitalized Superior Street. The promenade could also connect to Headwaters Junction on the north side of the St. Mary’s. It would incorporate the existing depot and serve as a possible future home for the historic 765 steam locomotive.
Citizens wanting to stay connected to the Riverfront Fort Wayne initiative should visit www.RiverfrontFW.org and sign up for the electronic newsletter. They can also visit the Envision Fort Wayne Center, 916 S. Calhoun St. on Tuesdays 2-6 p.m. and Thursdays and Fridays 11 a.m.-3 p.m.