Riverfront project designs OK’d
$10 million in Legacy money sought to help pay for work
By Dave Gong | The Journal Gazette
The Fort Wayne Parks Board on Thursday unanimously approved final designs for the first phase of the downtown riverfront development project along the St. Marys River just north of downtown.
The plans were reviewed earlier this week by the Riverfront Advisory Committee, which recommended the board approve the designs for the $20 million park project. The updated plans keep the overall design but tweak some of the features to provide greater accessibility and efficiency, said Rachel Vedder, an architect at Design Collaborative.
“The south side is still intended to be an urban riverfront promenade, with a dock and steps to get you down to the river,” Vedder said. “The north side is still intended to be more a recreational use, to play off of what Fort Wayne Outfitters already does on the site.”
The Tree Canopy Trail, which will wend its way through tree tops along the St. Marys River’s north bank, has been changed from a suspension system to a below-boardwalk support system. Designing the trail this way will be more efficient and minimize impact on the surrounding wetlands, Vedder said.
Also, Vedder said plans for a children’s play area have been updated for accessibility, and playground equipment was selected with children of all abilities in mind.
A trailhead building near the play area, including restrooms, has also been added, Vedder said, noting that it would be the only restroom planned for the Rivergreenway.
A more easily accessible access inlet for kayakers, canoers or paddleboarders – meant to accommodate less seasoned explorers or people with disabilities – and a pedestrian lane will be added to the Harrison Street Bridge, reducing the number of traffic lanes from three to two, and a sculpture will be commissioned from a nationally recognized sculptor for an entry feature on the south bank.
Concession space has been added to the planned pavilion, which could be accessible from the outside even if the interior is reserved for an event. Additionally, a portion of the park designated for green space will house seatwall planters, foliage and shade trees.
“The location is perfect, and it’s not just a restroom but kind of a waystation or trailhouse for the trailhead,” parks board member Pamela Kelly said. “Air pumps for bicycles, bicycle racks, a place where people can stop as they’re using the Rivergreenway and use that restroom.”
The project cost is $20 million for Phase One. The Fort Wayne City Council will consider a $10 million Legacy Fund request Tuesday for this phase of the project.
Parks Director Al Moll said the process of acquiring the land for the park is moving along. An eminent domain bench trial in Allen Circuit Court is planned for Feb. 21-23.
In other business, the parks board approved a contract for $58,750 to demolish Swinney Pool.
The pool has been closed since 2009 and has reached a point where it is unfit for use. Additionally, changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act would require expensive renovations before the pool could be reopened to the public.