City prepares to close on North River land

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – After approval from City Council, city leaders started the process to close the deal on the North River property Wednesday.

“We have a very important step before us,” City Spokesman John Perlich explained. “That’s to make sure we have the highest and best use for the North River property.”

The purchase of the 29 acres north of the St. Marys River was approved by a 5 to 3 vote across party lines.

Councilmen in favor: Didier, Paddock, Ensley, Freistroffer and Crawford.

“It’s not a good deal, but with the seller that we had, it’s probably the best deal they were going to give us and in the long run, I think it’s good for the city,”  Republican Councilman John Crawford said.

Votes against the sale came from Arp, Jehl and Hines, who were all concerned with the confidential environmental testing results. Those results will be public record when the closing is finalized.

“Before I vote on behalf of you, the public, and spend your tax dollars, I should know what the true cost could be,” Democratic Councilman Glynn Hines said.

Cleanup work probably won’t get underway until a private developer is picked. City leaders are ready to work with IDEM officials though.

The request for proposal process is set to happen in the coming months.

“We’ll be taking incremental next steps, but a very important vote last night, Perlich added. “We know it was a difficult vote for council. We know it was a very unique circumstance, but it’s very important to demonstrate leadership and demonstrate a belief and understanding that we need to come together as a city to ensure our growth and success.”