Council introduces Legacy committee legislation

One organization concerned committee could re-start Legacy process

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – City Council introduced legislation Tuesday that would create a seven-member committee that would screen projects wanting a piece of the Legacy fund pie.  Council will discuss the resolution at its meeting next week, and could approve the committee by the end of August.

Mayor Tom Henry gave more insight into the committee last week, when he said it would serve as a new process for determining how businesses could apply for Legacy funds.

Council will discuss the resolution for a new committee at next week’s meeting.  It could get final approval on Tuesday, August 26.

While city leaders are looking at adding the committee, area organizations are still moving forward with trying to get Legacy dollars to help fund projects.  The World Baseball Academy has been in talks with the city for months with the hopes of using Legacy funds to help renovate baseball fields.

“We believe Fort Wayne is really ready for a premier youth baseball tournament-ready facility,” said Linda Buskirk, the academy’s director of development.

The academy’s plan consists of two phases, totaling approximately $6.5 million in work.

Phase one, which cost $3.2 million, would consist of:

  • Construction of three, youth-size ball fields with artificial surface infields and lighting,including bleachers, press box, score boards
  • Drainage system installation
  • Updated electrical service
  • Enhanced indoor instructional space

Phase two, which cost $3.3 million, would consist of:

  • Construction of the main, collegiate-size field using all artificial surfaces, including bleachers, press box, and scoreboards
  • Improved parking lots, driveways,and landscapes
  • Establish a facilities endowment fund

Buskirk said the city-formed youth sports task force saw the academy’s plan when Legacy funds were first discussed.  The task force recommended the academy get $2 million to spark donations for the work.

However, no money has been approved to date.  Buskirk said she hoped the academy would get first consideration if a new committee is formed.

“I don’t know if they’re going to get looked at first,” Councilman Tom Smith (R-1st District) said.  “We are going to have a new process.  Now if somebody has already been involved, and now we bring in a new process, they will already be that much farther ahead.”

Buskirk’s office could still by-pass the committee, but would need a councilman or Mayor Henry to approach council with the proposal.

“Any person can still bring [an idea] forward,” Councilman John Crawford (R-At-large) said.  “If six people go for it, it goes to the mayor.  Or the mayor can have one, and he can zoom it to council.  We don’t have to go through the committee.  It’s just a screening.”

If the World Baseball Academy can get Legacy dollars approved soon, the fields could be renovated by the summer of 2016.

“We have been raising money already toward that goal,” Buskirk said.  “It would help us move the project forward, and hopefully be under construction late next year, if we have a large investment from Legacy.”

The academy has already raised $700,000 in pledges and gifts.

Each year, more than 3,000 children use the academy’s ball fields.  Many parents bring in their children for games from out of town.  The economic impact is estimated to bring over $1 million for the local economy each year.

The renovations, and the collegiate-level field, could increase the academy’s economic impact by more than 100 percent.

Click here to learn more about the academy’s $6.5 million plan.

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