New Legacy committee up for final vote

Fort Wayne City Council could approve a new seven-member Legacy committee next week.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A proposed seven-member Legacy committee is set for final approval next Tuesday at Fort Wayne City Council’s next scheduled meeting. Approval would create the Legacy Joint Funding Committee, responsible for finding projects that meet Legacy criteria.

Discussions of the committee began a little over two weeks ago, when Mayor Tom Henry announced he had a new process to enhance the city’s Legacy initiative.

The committee would be responsible for reviewing projects and then send the best ones to city council for possible approval.

“Everybody at the table appears to be in favor of a process being setup to review Legacy requests,” Fort Wayne Deputy Mayor Karl Bandemer said after Tuesday’s council meeting.

The committee could help projects get reviewed more quickly, too. So far, nearly a thousand projects or ideas have come in, but council has only looked at a few dozen, at most.

“This will allow them to know where to go with the project if they want to get back in the process again,” Bandemer said.

There are nine elements Legacy projects are supposed to have to be considered an ideal candidate for Legacy funds. (Those elements can be found at the bottom of this story.)

The new committee would be responsible for considering those elements when looking at projects, and would unlikely use a scoring system.

“You can not run the scoring system,” Councilman Mitch Harper (R-4th District) said. “Then everybody who hits a certain score is going to be approved. There’s discretion.  There are two of them, one on quality, and the other is on protecting the Legacy fund.”

Tuesday’s discussion was mostly positive, but some councilmen wanted to see additional things added in regards to Legacy.

“I always want to see a few more modifications that are going to help protect the Legacy fund,” Harper said.  “That’s what I hear from citizens.”

Harper added he would like the committee to be given goals each year, to help limit spending and to be used as a guide to determine where and how money should be spent.

“I’d like to see citizen participation,” Councilman Geoff Paddock (D-5th District) said, an idea that Councilman John Shoaff (D-At-large) first mentioned. “I don’t want to see just elected officials and administrators with the city being the deciders here.”

Council meets next Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers at Citizens Square.

The Legacy Funding Review process will use a balanced approach to evaluate potential projects. Proposal Sponsors must provide relevant details and list proposed benefits to the community in these categories:

  • Transformative outcomeDescribe how the proposal will substantively improve the landscape of Fort Wayne either figuratively or literally.
  • Amount of investment leverageHow will the project maximize leverage opportunities?  What are the sources, both public and private, of funding beyond Legacy funds?  Are funds in place or committed?  Describe project budget and financing gap.
  • Serve as a catalyst for additional developmentHow will the proposal attract development or other improvements in the immediate vicinity?
  • Local focusDescribe in detail how the Legacy Fund will remain within Fort Wayne.  Be as specific as possible.
  • Considers and aligns with adopted community plans.   Will the project be sensitive to Plan-It Allen and subsequent area and special purpose plans, including Bike Fort Wayne, Walk Fort Wayne, Front Door Fort Wayne?
  • Long term sustainabilityIs the proposal is well developed and provides a solid business model? Provide details.
  • Alignment with identified community prioritiesIs the impact of the concept / proposal aligned with community priorities?

Identified Community Priorities

  1. 21st Century Talent (e.g. education, training, workforce development);
  2. Economic Development (e.g. retaining, growing and attracting employers);
  3. Entrepreneurship (e.g. new/start-up businesses, venture capital);
  4. Infrastructure (e.g.  services and facilities that support economic development); and/or
  5. Quality of Life (e.g. arts and cultural resources, community amenities, aesthetics).
  • Improve the local economy.   How will the proposal attract new jobs, provide an expanded tax base, and/or stabilize distressed or threatened neighborhoods.
  • Three overarching areas of focusHow will the proposal address one or more of the listed focus areas?  Is the proposal bold?  Will it be recognized as having moved the community forward? Be specific.
  1. Core Economic Development – To secure a solid economic foundation for Fort Wayne’s future, while aligning with and advancing the Fort Wayne economic strategy.
    1. Business Attraction and Retention
    2. Strategic Infrastructure
  2. Downtown / Riverfront Development – To improve and develop two of Fort Wayne’s great assets: downtown and its rivers.
    1. Catalytic Downtown Development Incentives.
      1. Aggressive support system for entrepreneurial and early stage companies
      2. Live-work space development
      3. Post-secondary education presence
      4. Development incentives
      5. Downtown transit
      6. Downtown commercial development
    2. Riverfront Development – Focusing riverfront development in the downtown area to promote both the use of the rivers and the downtown area is a natural connection. The Task Force highlighted the importance of prioritizing riverfront planning initiatives and encouraging riverfront development projects.  Catalytic projects noted include a large-scale development at the area known as North River.
    3. Arts and Culture – The Task Force supported a strong arts and culture presence in downtown to improve community identity, destination development, and attraction of residential development.  Legacy should encourage innovation and creativity for a thriving and diverse downtown.  Examples include:
      1. Youth arts programming
      2. Innovative art and technology
      3. Public art
    4. Youth/Prep Sports Initiative – Build on existing strengths to enhance sports opportunities for Fort Wayne youth/prep sports.

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