Northside neighborhood improves with grant, Team Better Block project

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Columbia Avenue, east of downtown Fort Wayne, will transform November 4th. It’s all made possible through a $15,000 grant.

AARP partnered with an organization called Team Better Block to make it happen. The group takes on projects worldwide aimed at transforming communities one block at a time. Columbia is one of their latest picks. “There were three in the country that were chosen for this. Fort Worth Texas, Rochester New York and Fort Wayne. So, it’s a pretty big deal,” Mo Palmer said. Palmer is part of a group working to develop better traffic patterns and active living in the Northside Neighborhood. This grant was a big boost for those efforts.

The community challenge grant will go toward what’s called placemaking. It’s a growing trend intended to develop communities. “Placemaking is creating a place within your block where people want to go- setting parklets up, having benches, having public art…”

Murals and crosswalks will be created as well as park spaces and more. Some of this will be permanent.

The work block is on Columbia to Lafort starting Wednesday. Active living is big part of it. “Making sure that you can get to these places even if you don’t own a vehicle, if you’re in a wheelchair, if you’re pushing a stroller, if you’re on bicycle…”

Saturday will be a celebration of the block and the possibilities of what it could look like with a calmer traffic pattern and active living. Palmer says it’s for neighborhood but also the rest of the city. “It’s all our community and that may sound a little cheesy but it’s true. The better one neighborhood is the better we all are, especially if we’re working together for these kinds of projects.”

Palmer said it’s a chance for other areas of town to see what something like this would be like. If it goes well, they could try the same.

She said she’s had good communication with the city with efforts like this. “If this all comes together and works well, there is definitely potential for more permanent and further- reaching traffic calming and community building endeavors in this area.”

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