In the past four years, appreciation has exploded regarding the potential our local rivers hold for the community. Citizens are excited about enjoying our rivers. In part because like-minded individuals have banded together for a common cause in groups like Invent Tomorrow, Rivers Rivers Rivers; Friends of the Rivers; Save Maumee; and the professional watershed organizations.
River-centered events like RiverFest, RiverGames of Three Rivers Festival and the William Wells Celebration have encouraged thousands of participants to be on the water to form their own impressions of the joy our waters offer. Recently new local businesses like the Deck behind Don Hall’s Gas House and the Fort Wayne Outfitters by the Historic Wells Street Bridge provide daily opportunities for people to be along the rivers and on the rivers.
Active discussions right now about the future development and potential of our rivers in groups like Legacy Fort Wayne – Downtown and Riverfront Development and Vision 2020 – Quality of Life, Downtown Riverfront Development add a dimension of attainability.
During the last three years, the downtown rivers have been lowered, as they are right now during the height of the recreational season, minimizing their attractiveness and accessibility in order to accommodate construction projects. These projects have been initiated through Fort Wayne City Utilities and Board of Works. This has resulted in losing 50 percent or more of the recreational season (April 15 to Oct. 15) each year. It does not appear this pattern will change in the near future. The city’s rationale is that lower rivers can reduce construction costs, thus saving taxpayers’ money. I agree with this but question the timing of these projects during the height of the recreational season.
The question is: Are we saving enough money to justify lowering the rivers during the height of the recreational season to offset lost revenue riverfront development could offer in growing our economy? In other words: Is the city administration being penny-wise and pound-foolish?
I am president of the Belle Vista/Allendale Neighborhood Association. Too often residents of Fort Wayne find fault with how the city of Fort Wayne does its job. When they do a good job, they say nothing. I want the city to know that our neighborhood is pleased with how they are conducting the clean up after the 90-plus-mile-per-hour wind that swept through our city. I wrote the following letter to Chad Tinkel, manager of forestry operations:
The Belle Vista/Allendale Neighborhood Association wants to commend the city on the fine job they are doing in removing the tree debris and large tree logs that have been placed at curbs by neighborhood residents. It is a job of such magnitude that it is good that you have outside contractors to help in the clean up.
The outside contractor you hired that came through the Belle Vista/Allendale Neighborhood did an excellent job. They were Shade Trees Unlimited out of Roanoke. Andy Dolan is the owner. Everyone in the neighborhood has commented on what a fantastic job the workers did. Not only in chipping up the brush but also in the clean up of the park strip after the chipping was done.
Again, I want to thank the city for the very timely manner in which all the debris is being removed from resident’s yards.
Billie F. Rykard, president, Belle Vista/Allendale Neighborhood Association