Fort Wayne asks for $1.77M in Regional Cities funding for 8 miles of trails

October 19th, 2016

Trail segments would be part of Pufferbelly Trail in Fort Wayne and four-county Ouabache-Pokagon link.

By Bob Caylor | News-Sentinel

Fort Wayne is looking for a boost from Regional Cities funding to help build almost 8 miles of new trails that will be important links in an ambitious four-county trail.

Dawn Ritchie, the city of Fort Wayne’s greenways manager, and Kent Castleman, executive director of Fort Wayne trails, appeared before the board of the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority on Tuesday. They asked for $1.77 million in Regional Cities funding toward the $9.5 million cost of 7.87 miles of trails in the city.

These trails would extend from:

  • Lower Huntington Road along Bluffton Road through Waynedale to Foster Park;
  • Washington Center Road to Wallen Road;
  • Fernhill Avenue to State Boulevard;
  • The Fernhill-State trail to Franke Park and the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.

Those north-south routes all help fill in the “Poka-Bache Connector, a planned 81-mile route from Ouabache State Park in Wells County, southeast of Bluffton, to Pokagon State Park in Steuben County, north of Angola, Ritchie said. Twenty-two miles of that trail have been built so far, she said.

Board members, who oversee the distribution of $42 million in Regional Cities funding from the state, tabled the request for consideration. The board typically acts on requests at the following month’s meeting. That funding, to be delivered over a two-year period, is designated for projects that enhance the “quality of place” in 11 northeast Indiana counties.

Ritchie told board members that these four segments are “shovel-ready” projects that could be bid in 2017 and completed in 2018. The rest of the project’s funding has been committed and some has even been delivered, she said.

The rest of the funding for the trails – from federal, local, other state and private sources – is committed to the project, she said, adding that some money already has been delivered.

Completing these new sections of the trail – known as Pufferbelly Trail in Allen County – would increase the assessed valuation of homes with a half-mile of the trails, Castleman said. If the $467 million assessed value of residences near the trails increased by 3 percent, which Castleman said is at the conservative end of property-value increases trails have brought in other communities, that would bring a $13.6 million rise in housing values.

The board also approved the disbursement of $1.75 million in Regional Cities funding for Embassy Theatre, where the board met on Tuesday. The board has approved more than $10 million in funding for other projects, but this payment was the first actually delivered to a recipient in the program.

Categories Quality of Life