City could use eminent domain to acquire riverfront land

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The city parks department could use eminent domain power to acquire downtown riverfront property to create a new park.

Artist renderings show the riverfront park the city hopes to place along the St. Marys River that will be the centerpiece of downtown riverfront development.
Artist renderings show the riverfront park the city hopes to place along the St. Marys River that will be the centerpiece of downtown riverfront development.

The Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department’s board of park commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to file a complaint for condemnation on the three parcels of land being considered for a new park along the St. Marys River as part of the riverfront development project. The parcels being eyed by the city currently house the old Ream Steckbeck Paint building and Cambray Associates, along Superior Street near Wells Street.

During the park board’s monthly meeting at Citizens Square, parks Executive Director Al Moll said bids made by the city on the real estate in the area were not accepted, which led to the push for claiming the parcels through eminent domain.

The park would stretch from Wells to Harrison streets on both banks of the river, and butt against Headwaters Park – the same area the city aims to put a promenade and riverwalk space that will be the jewel of its riverfront development. The area will be the hub of the city’s riverfront development in the downtown area, meshing nature, recreation, shopping, dining and entertainment, the city has said.

The area shaded in yellow is the area along the St. Marys River the city hopes to place a park that will be the centerpiece of downtown riverfront development.
The area shaded in yellow is the area along the St. Marys River the city hopes to place a park that will be the centerpiece of downtown riverfront development.

According to our partners in news at The News-Sentinel, the parks department must file a lawsuit to condemn the properties for public purpose and use through government’s right of eminent domain. From there, the property owners can file objections, which will be subject to judicial review.

After those proceedings, the property will be appraised and the city will be able to pay that amount to acquire the land, the newspaper reported.

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