Mayor, city council want updated process for Legacy

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Mayor Tom Henry announced Wednesday that his administration has developed a review process to enhance the city’s Legacy initiative.  The process calls for a seven-member committee to review and determine if projects will get Legacy funds or not.

The plan has been worked on for several months by the Mayor’s administration and members of council.

“We feel this is another way for us to take that next step to ensure that the Legacy program is in as strong of a position as possible. We think that the new committee, the review process, and working in collaboration with elected officials and the community at large will really move us forward in a positive direction,” John Perlich, a spokesman for the Mayor, said.

Under the Mayor’s plan, the committee will be comprised of three members of Mayor Henry’s administration, two members of city council, and two citizen members.  One citizen will be chosen by the Mayor and the other will be chosen by council.

“It’ll be much more controlled, manageable, and understandable,” Councilman Tom Smith (R-1st District) said. “I think that’s very important because that pot of money is attracting a lot of people.”

In addition to the Mayor’s office and city council making requests for Legacy funding, the establishment of the review process will allow private and nonprofit entities the opportunity to apply for Legacy funding.

“Before, you had to be in a certain area, or perhaps in a certain category, to get support. Now we are saying almost anybody can come forward and a committee of your peers will take a look at it and there may be an opportunity to fund a project that might really be worthwhile for Fort Wayne,” Councilman Geoff Paddock (D-5th District) said.

Proposals will be evaluated based on the guiding principles set forth in the original Legacy ordinance and the subsequent recommendations made by the Legacy Task Force and Legacy Champion Teams.  Committee members will also be given the flexibility to consider unique opportunities that may emerge.  The committee will provide recommendations to the Mayor and city council on which proposals meet Legacy funding criteria.

“That gives everyone who has a suggestion an opportunity to formally submit it and have a review committee take a look at it and really judge it on its merits. I think that will help us make some wise decisions in the years ahead,” Paddock said.

Perlich told NewsChannel 15 the committee would serve as an additional approval to determine which projects would get Legacy funds.  Projects would still have to be approved by six councilmen and the Mayor.

“Certainly if it gets through the committee process, the mayor and the city council will have added confidence that this is a project that deserves utmost consideration. If it doesn’t get through the committee process then it’s probably one that doesn’t need to be brought forward as a Legacy initiative,” Perlich said.

At council’s meeting on Tuesday, August 12, a resolution will be introduced requesting the implementation of the review process.  The resolution will be discussed on Tuesday, August 19, with the possible final passage on Tuesday, August 26.

“Legacy is an important part of the unprecedented momentum we’re seeing in Fort Wayne.  Being able to invest in in projects that set us apart from other communities makes our city a leader in economic development, job growth, great neighborhoods, and an excellent quality of life,” said Mayor Henry.  “The guidelines we’ve updated continue our commitment to ensuring that the Legacy fund is a valued community asset.”

Legacy funds comes from two sources: the City Light Settlement reached between the City of Fort Wayne and Indiana Michigan Power; and the Fort Wayne Community Trust, established by the city over 30 years ago using a portion of the annual Light Lease payments.  The funds are designed to provide catalytic investment, leverage additional resources, and directly benefit residents of Fort Wayne.

“Legacy should always be the money of last resort,” Smith said. “It’s for projects that will have a lasting value and the money will stay in FW.”

Highlights of Legacy projects:

  • Downtown Riverfront Study – in process
  • Ewing Street/Fairfield Avenue conversion to two-way streets with a roundabout at Wells and Superior streets – under construction
  • McMillen Park Community Center – opened in June
  • Youth Sports Study – completed
  • Lighting of Wells Street Bridge – completed
  • Neighborhood infrastructure investments – in process
  • Indiana Tech Academic Center – completed
  • University of Saint Francis renovation of two existing downtown building for higher education offerings – in process
  • Parking garage for Ash Skyline Plaza/Skyline Pro

Current financial report for Legacy:

  • Funds available year-end 2013 – $51.7 million
  • Future revenues – $29.3 million
  • Appropriations – $25 million
  • Increase in market share – $48.4 million
  • Anticipated funds available year-end 2025 – $101.9 million
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