A Chicago-area firm is in line for a $66,000 contract to restore and repair the statue of Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne – the first step in a privately funded effort to improve the iconic sculpture's visibility that could cost $100,000 or more.
The Fort Wayne parks board Thursday is expected to hire the Conservation of Sculptural and Objects Studio of Forest Park, Ill., to make improvements to George Ganiere's 96-year-old statue, which was at the center of a controversy after The News-Sentinel reported in late 2012 that Mayor Tom Henry wanted to move the sculpture of the city's namesake from Freimann Square to the Courthouse Green. Henry said relocating the statue to the corner of Main and Clinton streets would improve its visibility, but members of the Courthouse Preservation Trust and others opposed the idea, insisting it remain where it has been since being moved downtown from what is now Nuchols Park in 1973.
Henry dropped his relocation proposal last August after the trust agreed to provide up to $100,000 to improve the statue's present site, pruning or removing some of the trees that obscure it and adding lights to make it more visible after dark.
First, though, Wayne and his horse will get a facelift.
“(The Chicago studio) is going to restore the statue and repair some of the damage,” Parks Director Al Moll said, noting that Wayne's sword and other features have been damaged by time and vandals over the years. The statue's last makeover was in 1993, when the Anthony Wayne Rotary Club paid MES Painting Co. about $5,000 to clean it, restoring its original bronze luster.
If the restoration cannot be completed before July, Moll said, it will have to wait until after the annual Three Rivers Festival, much of which is held in Freimann Square. After that, work on landscaping and lighting will begin. Some nearby improvements, such as new benches, have been included in long-range plans for Freimann Square and will be funded by the parks department, Moll added. The parks department may also cover some of the firm's expenses in addition to the contract.
In other business Thursday, the board is expected to approve plans for relocating Cindy's Diner from its current location at Harrison and Wayne streets to park-owned land at Berry Street and Maiden Lane. The dinner must move to make way for a $71 million office, commercial and residential project, although Moll said some details of the relocation may not be finalized before the meeting.
Also Thursday, the board will consider a proposal to locate a 120-foot Verizon cell phone tower in North Side Park. The deal would generate about $2,000 per month, which Moll said could help provide free swimming lessons or other programs at the park. Revenue-generating towers may also be located in one or two other parks, Moll added.