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Riverfront plans to make a splash this summer

Written by: Communicator StaffMay 05, 2017

Written by: Zachary D. Elick

The first phase of the city of Fort Wayne’s plan to revitalize its riverbanks will break ground this summer, said Mark Becker, deputy director of riverfront development for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

By late June or early July, construction will begin on a park system located on both sides of the St. Mary’s River, between Harrison Street and the Wells Street Bridge.

“It’s going to be a world-class facility,” Becker said. “We already have a riverfront park in Headwaters. So, there will be a strong link between (Headwaters and this park system), and you’ll see some stronger coordination programing between the existing parks.”

The north side of the river will include a tree-canopied, elevated boardwalk, docking for canoes and boats, a children’s playground and an expansion of the Harrison Street Bridge.

The south side will include a promenade plaza, an amphitheater, a pavilion, a garden, a lawn, a bioswale and a newly commissioned sculpture by a national-recognized artist, Becker said.

Construction of the park system is expected to be finished in about 18 months and will be overseen by The Hagerman Group, a local construction company.

Contractor bids to build or provide different elements of the first phase of the riverfront development project were due last week. During the selection process, the parks department and The Hagerman Group will work to stick to the $20 million targeted budget, Becker said.

“Obviously, this next stage is really important because we have done all this detailed estimating of the cost, but until the bids come in, (we) don’t know (if our estimations were too low or too high),” he said.

Whatever the bids turn out to be, the parks department has alternatives to their plans thought out in advance to keep the budget on target, Becker said.

The selected bids will be announced during the next Fort Wayne Board of Park Commissioners meeting at 10 a.m. May 9 in Suite 30 of Citizens Square, 200 E. Berry St. The Fort Wayne City Council will then weigh in and vote on the bids within the following two weeks, Becker said.

Last December, the Fort Wayne City Council allocated $10 million in Legacy funding to the project. Totaling about $75 million, the city’s Legacy funds comes from two sources: a settlement between the city and Indiana Michigan Power and a community trust fund started over 30 years ago.

The rest of the funding for the first phase has come from other entities. For example, Becker said funds from Anthony Wayne Services have been provided to help make the park system accessible to people of all abilities.

Last month, the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority approved over $5 million for the project. And earlier this year, the Fort Wayne Rotary Club pledged $200,000 for a water jet fountain to be constructed on the southside plaza.

The first phase pro-jects were designed by Riverworks Design Group. The collective is comprised of Design Collaborative, Hoch Associates, Engineering Resources, American Structurepoint, One Lucky Guitar and the Chicago-based Forum Studio.