• Achieved agency accreditation through the National Parks and Recreation Association’s Commission for the Accreditation of Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).
  • Lawton Skatepark opened on September 3. The facility was funded largely by private donations.
  • Opened the new Sharks, Rays & Jellyfish exhibit at the Children’s Zoo and recorded the second largest attendance in 39 years with 523,940 visitors.  
  • Constructed a new pole barn at Salomon Farm and began renovation of the historic barn.  
  • Celebrated the grand re-opening of Foster Park after extensive flooding in July 2003 closed the course for the   remainder of the season  
  • The comprehensive plan initiated in 2002 was completed.
  • Buckner Farm Park opened to the public on October 1 after a path and parking area were constructed.
  • Received the Outstanding Park Development Award from IPRA and the Outstanding Concrete Achievement Award from the Indiana Ready Mix Concrete Association for the Lawton Skatepark development.  Also received the  Outstanding Special Award from IPRA for the Kaleidoscope blown glass showcase at the Botanical Conservatory.  
  • Created a Greenway/Community Trails Manager position to take responsibility for the Rivergreenway and coordinate with other area organizations in trail development.  


  • PBS Channel 39 produced and aired a 1-hour documentary of the Lifetime Sports Academy .  
  • Celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Parks and Recreation Department with special events and $1 admissions scheduled throughout the year. The Three Rivers Festival honored the occasion with the parade theme, “A Century of Fun.”
  • Director Dianne Hoover resigned in February. Dave Ridderheim(February-September) and Perry Ehresman (October)served as interim directors until Al Moll officially took the position in late October. 
  • Passed $10 million general obligation bond for park improvements. 
  • Began reconstruction of the sunken gardens at Lakeside Park.   
  • Planted 240 trees in Kreager, McMillen, Foster West, Weisser and Tillman Parks as part of the 2005 Great Tree Canopy Comeback. 
  • Buckner Park Development Committee submitted recommendations for the future development of  Buckner Park.
  • Completed plaza and sidewalk renovations at Freimann Square. 
  • Foellinger Theatre improvements in 2005 included paving the parking lot, construction of a new restroom/concession building and plaza, and landscaping around the entrance. 
  • Renovation of the old barn at Salomon Farm was completed. 
  • McMillen Ice Arena hosted the 2005 International Silver Stick Regional Hockey Tournament, accommodating nearly 80 teams vying for international recognition. 
  • Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo celebrated its 40th anniversary with special events throughout the summer, including naming the endangered species carousel in memory of Earl B. Wells, the zoo’s founding director and leader for over 30 years. 
  • Entered into a management agreement with the Fort Wayne Zoological Society for operation of the Children's Zoo.
  • The Conservateer volunteer program at the Botanical Conservatory was dissolved. 


  • Psi Ote Upper pavilion renovated
  • Completed reconstruction of Lakeside Park's sunken gardens.
  • Celebrated the 60th Anniversary of Franke Park Day Camp.
  • Reprised youth programming at Cooper Center in Reservoir Park.
  • Completed the Oak Savanna at Buckner Park and contracted the design of phase I development.
  • The zoo's first baby orangutan, Dumadi, was born.
  • The zoo gift shop was doubled in size, completed remodeled and re-opened with a new name: Wild Things.
  • The zoo initiated a $7 million capital campaign (the largest in zoo history) to renovate the African Veldt in to African Journey.
  • McMillen Ice Arena hosted the USA Hockey Pee Wee Tier 2 National Championship Tournament and the Silver Stick International Qualifier Tournament.
  • Renovations at Salomon Farm Park included a new restroom building, a livestock shelter, parking lot improvements, a chicken coop, tool shed, and completion of the old barn.


  • Celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Lifetime Sports Academy.
  • McMillen Ice Arena hosted the American Collegiate Hockey Associations Division 3 Championship and the Silver Stick Youth Hockey Tournament.
  • Renovated the Swinney Tennis Center and completed renovations of the pond in West Swinney Park.
  • Purchased new Rec Trac registration/reservation computer system.
  • Installed splash pads in Waynedale and McCormick Parks.
  • Constructed 1.8 mile multi-use trail at Salomon Farm Park.
  • Constructed new Carrington Field off Coliseum Blvd, next to Lakeside Golf Course.
  • Began construction on the Zoo’s new African Journey exhibit.


  • Dedicated the Daryl B. Cobin Memorial Park, home of Carrington Field.
  • Began construction of Meyer Park at Parkview Field.
  • Children's Zoo receives accreditation by Associate of Zoos & Aquariums.
  • Department entered agreement with Canlan Ice Sports Corp for private operation of McMillen Ice Arena beginning in 2009.
  • Completed construction and dedicated new Japanese-style pavilion in Swinney Park.
  • Celebrated 50th anniversary of Shoaff Park Golf Course.
  • Initiated the Legacy Parks program to recognize parks that reach their 100th anniversary.
  • New maintenance building constructed at Shoaff Park Golf Course.
  • Restored bandstand at McCulloch Park.
  • Began phase I development in Buckner Park. Completed pavilion, playground, splash pad, parking lot.
  • Installed new playgrounds in McCormick and Lafayette Parks.
  • Received $1 million gift from Foellinger Foundation in commemoration of its 50th anniversary.


  • African Journey exhibit opened at Children’s Zoo.  Exhibit set attendance record of 610,000 visitors.  This project was the largest improvement to the zoo in the 44 year history.
  • Dedicated development at Buckner Park and opened splash pad and open air pavilion.  This 1.6 million phased project on the 190 acre site provides a regional park experience.
  • Dedicated Robert E. Meyer Park at Parkview Field. The park contains a splash pad and a small amphitheatre surrounded by extensive landscaping.  The park was primarily funded from the estate of former Fort Wayne Mayor and Judge Robert E. Meyers via a gift to the Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation Department. 
  • Private donations and grants surpased $1 million.
  • Mayor Tom Henry appointed an ad-hoc tree commission to provide recommendations and evaluations to the Park Department's urban forestry program.
  • Department turned management of McMillen Ice Arena over to Canlan Ice Sports Corp.
  • Department was re-accredited by the Commission for the Accreditation of Parks & Recreation Agencies.
  • Swinney Pool closed due to budget constraints and under use.


  • Professional Golfer John Daly kicked off the Lifetime Sports Academy’s 13thyear
  • Taylor’s Dream Boundless Playground wins $70,000 in on-line voting competition sponsored by CVS/Pharmacy and Pepsi Co
  • PGA Professional and Manager of Golf Operations Rick Hemsoth awarded the 2010 U.S. Kids Golf Master Kids Teacher award 
  • New Projects and Renovations

  • Lions Park Pickleball Courts
  • Taylor’s Dream Boundless Playground Project
  • Foster Park Pavilion #1 Renovation
  • Plock Friendship Garden
  • Botanical Conservatory Café Project
  • Swinney Park Dimension Property Master Plan 


  • 35thAnniversary – Cooper Community Center 
  • Awards Recognizing Park Excellence 
  • Fort Wayne Newspapers 2010 Reader’s Picks 1stPlace Winner for Best Local Park – Foster Park
  • The Non-Profit Organization KaBOOM! Named Fort Wayne a “Playful City USA” Community
  • The City of Fort Wayne was named Tree City USA for the 20thconsecutive year
  • Merit Design Award for the design of Robert E. Meyers Park from the Indiana-American Society of Landscape Architects
  • Fort Wayne’s park and boulevard system included on the National Historic Register


       Exciting News 

  • Taylor’s Dream Boundless Playground opens June 10, 2011
  • Gallup and Knight Foundation’s “Soul of the Community” study indicates aesthetics, primarily parks and trails, are rated the greatest strength of the Fort Wayne Community
  • City of Fort Wayne recognized as the “2011 Outstanding Government Entity in Promoting Principles of Urban Forestry” in Indiana

Awards Recognizing Park Excellence

  • Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation Department receives a state award for “Outstanding Municipality of the Year” for efforts in addressing the Emerald Ash Borer challenge
  • Taylor’s Dream Boundless Playground is one of two national grand prize winners of the Synthetic Turf Council’s “2011 Search for the Real Field of Dreams” contest
  • Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation Aquatic staff receives the “Gold International Aquatic Safety” award for their commitment to professional excellence
  • The National Register of Historic Places grants the designation “Historic District” to the Fort Wayne Park  and Boulevard System for being an example of a comprehensive public space and transportation system developed from 1909 to 1955, and the Department receives “Historic Preservation” award.
  • City float built by Parks & Recreation employees wins 1st place for Non-Commercial Division in the Three Rivers Festival Parade
  • The Conservatory and designer, Alec Johnson, win “Landscape Design Award” presented by the Downtown Improvement District at its annual American Institute of Architects Award Ceremony.
  • The non-profit organization KaBOOM! named Fort Wayne a “2011 Playful City USA Community”
  • The City of Fort Wayne named “Tree City USA” for the 21st consecutive year

New Projects and Renovations

  • Vesey Park Pedestrian Bridge Improvements
  • Foellinger Theatre Parking Lot Lighting
  • Park Signage Project
  • Johnny Appleseed Campground Improvements
  • Rivergreenway Boardwalk Deck Improvements
  • Lindenwood Nature Preserve Storage Barn
  • Splashpad Improvements at Waynedale and McCormick Parks


  • 40th Anniversary-Freimann Square
  • 50thAnniversary-Swim and Dive Meet
  • 65thAnniversary- Franke Park Day Camp


Exciting News

First annual downtown Winterval Festival
Huey Lewis Concert at Foellinger Theatre sells out
Legacy funding approved for McMillen Ice Rink renovation

Awards Recognizing Park Excellence

The non-profit organization KaBOOM! named Fort Wayne a "2012 Playful City USA Community"
The City of Fort Wayne named "Tree City USA" for the 22nd consecutive year
Taylor’s Dream awarded the "Daniel Flaherty Park Excellence Award" & "Excellence in Construction Award"
Franke Park Day Camp voted best summer camp by Fort Wayne Newspapers Reader’s Picks
Golf Operations Pro/Manager Rick Hemsoth awarded "PGA Indiana Section Junior Golf Leader"

New Projects and Renovations

Lakeside Park Pavilion #1 Roofing Improvements
Memorial Park Playground Improvements
Pawster Park Lighting Project
Foster Park Monument Sign Project
Swinney Park Homestead Roofing
Botanical Conservatory Terrace Improvements Project

100th Anniversary—Foster Park
35th Anniversary—Community Center
25th Anniversary—Lindenwood Nature Preserve
15th Anniversary—Lifetime Sports Academy



                  Exciting News
• Legendary Group Chicago Headlines Foellinger Theatre Concert Season
• City Unveils McMillen Community Center Plans
• Annual $3 Million Allocation of Funds for Future Parks & Recreation Maintenance and Improvements

Awards Recognizing Park Excellence

• The non-profi t organization KaBOOM! named Fort Wayne a “2013 Playful City USA Community”

• The City of Fort Wayne named “Tree City USA” for the 23rd consecutive year

New Projects and Renovations

• Parks Master Plan
• Foellinger Theatre Seating Expansion Project
• McMillen Park Tennis Court Improvements
• Botanical Conservatory Glass Replacement Project
• Franke and Lakeside Park Pond Bank Stabilization Projects
• Jennings Center Roof Improvements
• Kreager Park Boundless Playground Improvements


• 85th Anniversary—Foster Park Golf Course
• 55th Anniversary—Shoaff Park Golf Course
• 50th Anniversary—McMillen Park Golf Course
• 35th Anniversary—Senior Games
• 30th Anniversary—Junor Golf Tour
• 15th Anniversary—Weisser Youth Center


                 Exciting News

Foellinger Theatre Concert Season was a huge success with Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, Styx and The
Beach Boys selling out.
The Old Barn rentals for weddings and parties have become Salomon Farm’s greatest revenue stream and help make Salomon self-sufficient without tax-payer funding.
Fort Wayne was designated a Birdtown Indiana by Indiana Audubon Society.

Awards Recognizing Park Excellence

  • Re-accreditation by the CAPRA Board of the National Recreation and Park Association
  • The National League of Cities recognized Mayor Tom Henry and the City of Fort Wayne for completing the key health and wellness goals for Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties
  • McMillen Park Community Center project chosen for 2014 Awards of Excellence from the Indiana Park and Recreation Association
  • Downtown Improvement District award for an outstanding commitment to Downtown Fort Wayne
  • Northeast Indiana Trail Riders Organization Corporate Supporter Award
  • The non-profit organization KaBOOM! named Fort Wayne a “2014 Playful City USA Community” for the 5th consecutive year
  • City of Fort Wayne named “Tree City USA” for 24th consecutive year

New Projects and Renovations

  • Lakeside Park Pond Bank Stabilization Improvements
  • Justin Study Park Basketball Court Improvement
  • Robert E. Meyers Park New Bloom Sculpture
  • Foellinger Theatre Structural & Bleacher Improvements
  • Foster Park Wedding Gazebo Improvements
  • McMillen Park Community Center Renovation & Indoor Playground
  • Bob Arnold Northside Park Aquatic Center Improvements
  • McMillen & Lakeside Parks New Water Well Installation
  • Freimann Square Anthony Wayne Monument & Site Improvements


                 Exciting News
• Foellinger Theatre attendance approached 50,000, up 35%, with revenues over $1.7 million.
• Camp Canine, the City’s second dog park, opened in July.
• The Department celebrated “110 Years of Family Fun” with a free, community party.

Awards Recognizing Park Excellence  
Taylor’s Dream was voted one of the 50 best playgrounds by Early Childhood Education Zone.  
The Rivergreenway was chosen as #2 in the “Best Trail” category in the “Best of Indiana” contest sponsored by Visit Indiana.  
The Old Fort received an ARCHie award for compatible new construction for the rebuilding of the Blacksmith Shop.  
The non-profit organization KaBOOM! named Fort Wayne a “2015 Playful City USA Community” for the 6th consecutive year.  
City of Fort Wayne named “Tree City USA” for 25th consecutive year.

New Projects and Renovations  
Franklin School Park Phase I Project  
Johnny Appleseed Dog Park Project  
Shoaff Park Tennis and Paving Improvements  
Freimann Square Bench and Lighting Improvements  
McMillen Community Center Concession Improvements  
Lions Park Playground and Pavilion Improvements  
Memorial Park Pavilion 1 Exterior Improvements  
Foellinger Theatre Beam, Seating, Sound and Rigging Improvements
Lafayette Park Shelter Improvements  
Packard Park Site Improvements
Solar Power Improvements at McMillen Park Community Center, Franklin School Park and Shoaff Park


                   Exciting News

Parks & Recreation Department will oversee Riverfront Development Phase 1

Awards Recognizing Park Excellence:

Salomon Farm Park and Farmers’ Market was inducted into the Green Lights Hall of Fame
Aquatic Safety Staff Received the Gold International Aquatic Safety Award for the 6th Time
The non-profit organization KaBOOM! named Fort Wayne a “2016 Playful City USA Community” for the 6th consecutive year.
City of Fort Wayne named “Tree City USA” for 26th consecutive year.

New Projects and Renovations

Franklin School Park Phase 1 - Site and Landscaping Improvements
Buckner Splash Pad Drainage Improvements
Lions Pickleball Improvements
Foellinger Theatre Tower Painting, Dock and Concrete Ramp Improvements
Salomon Homestead Demolition and Solar Parking Lot Lights
Northside Administration Roof Improvements
Franke and Shoaff Paving Improvements
Shoaff Park Entrance Sign
Klug Park Pathway and Sign Improvements
Johnny Appleseed Drainage Improvements
Community Center Parking Gate
McMillen Golf Maintenance Building Improvements
Franke Day Camp HVAC Improvements
Headwaters New Riverfront Dock





  • Greg Purcell resigned as director of Parks and Recreation in January. Phil Bennett acted as interim director until Mayor Graham Richard appointed Dianne Hoover in September.
  • New donor plaza constructed just inside the front gates of the zoo to recognize donors to the "Heart of the Zoo" fund-raising campaign.
  • After 10 years of hard work and patience, the zoo welcomed the first European black stork ever hatched in North America.
  • Conservatory improvements funded by the Foellinger Foundation in 1996 were completed with the installation of "The Underground" hands-on exhibit and the development of Conservatory Park.
  • New walking/jogging trail developed in Gren Park.
  • City ordinance revised to allow unleashed dogs inside the confines of the dog park (when it is built.)
  • A second flume slide installed at Northside Aquatic Center.
  • After two years of controversy, litigation and alternative proposals, construction of the expanded Franke Park parking lot finally commenced in October.
  • Kreager barn renovation completed
  • Dennis Noak, Superintendent of Conservatory and Horticulture, retired after 33½ years with the Department.
  • Rivergreenway additions constructed in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers diking project were completed. The trail is now open from Johnny Appleseed Park to Tillman Park and from State Blvd. (east side of St. Joseph River) to Pemberton Ave. (along the Maumee River.)
  • Seldom used ball diamond in Foster Park West is removed and the area dedicated for a proposed dog park.
  • New state law limits liability for extreme sports injuries.
  • Salomon Farm Learning Center is completed.
  • Mayor Graham Richard commits $5 million of CEDIT funds for parks if the community can match it.
  • New 9-hole golf course in McMillen Park was completed in late fall as part of the Lifetime Sports Academy. Construction of the $175,000 course was funded by the Mad Anthony’s. Weather and turf conditions delayed the opening until the spring of 2003.
  • New basketball court complex constructed in McMillen Park with contributions from City Council CEDIT funds and local foundations.
  • New wheelchair accessible playground installed in Lakeside Park through efforts and participation of the neighborhood association.
  • Plans developed for a sprayground and memorial to local civil servants who die while in the line of duty. Efforts were initiated by City Council member, Dr. John Crawford, who raised over $500,000 for the project. The sprayground was completed in November.
  • Rea Magnet Wire offers to donate land along Pontiac Street contiguous with the southern end of McCormick Park and agrees to establish a maintenance endowment.
  • The Olympic Torch for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics was relayed through Fort Wayne on January 3. A community celebration was held in Headwaters Park after the flame completed its route through the city.
  • Indiana Family Farm exhibit opens at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.
  • Franke Park parking lot expansion is completed, adding approximately 600 new spaces for park and zoo visitors.
  • New sprayground opens in Memorial Park in June and quickly becomes very popular.
  • Civil Servants memorial wall in Memorial Park is completed and dedicated along with the sprayground in late October.
  • Community Center celebrates 25th anniversary.
  • New playground installed in Franke Park in conjunction with parking lot improvements.
  • Acquired 53 acres of property contiguous to Buckner Park allowing for future access off Bass Rd. Funding for the purchase was provided through a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant.
  • Salomon Farm Camp introduced and sells out in its first year.
  • The Rivergreenway Consortium (a group formed in the late 1970s to promote the Rivergreenway development) changes its name to the Greenway Consortium and expands its focus to trails beyond the rivers. The Consortium presented a Greenway extension plan to the Park Board.
  • Department undertakes a comprehensive strategic planning process.
  • Mad Anthonys Threes 9-hole golf course learning center opens for play.
  • A new office/learning center at Lindenwood Nature Preserve was constructed to replace the building destroyed by arson in the spring of 2002.
  • Pawster Park Pooch Playground construction completed. The facility was dedicated and opened for public use in May.
  • Rea Park development completed. The new park was dedicated on July 22.
  • Foster Park sustained major damage in the flood of July 2003 requiring the closure of Foster Park Golf Course from July through the remainder of the year. Lawton, Franke, Swinney, and Kreager also sustained damage.
  • Memorial Pool bathhouse exterior was renovated with federal UPARR funds.
  • The Remenschneider property adjacent to Shoaff Park was purchased for future golf course expansion.
  • Foster Park Golf Course celebrated it’s 75th anniversary
  • New outdoor ice rink opened in Headwaters Park .
  • New parking lot (behind the ice arena) and new roadways were constructed in McMillen Park .
  • New playground equipment was installed at Psi Ote, Miner and McCormick Parks .
  • In cooperation with the Downtown Improvement District, a "River of Flowers" consisting of 4,500 daylilies was planted in the Main Street medians.
  • The Swinney Homestead renovation, which included new wood shutters, dormer siding, garage gable siding and painting of windows, doors and overhangs, was completed with a $19,875 matching grant from INDR.




  • Developed SOAR Youth Scholarship Fund.
  • Zoo employees transferred to Zoo Society payroll.
  • 4th of July fireworks moved to IPFW.
  • Department hosted Indiana Parks and Recreation Association annual conference.
  • Adopt-a-Greenway program created, whereby groups agree to clean up a 2-mile section of the trail three times a year for two years. Six sections designed for adoption.


  • McCulloch Center renamed Albert G. Jennings Recreation Center in honor of its long time director who passed away in 1991.
  • Last Soap Box Derby race in Fort Wayne.
  • Senior Citizens center renamed Community Center and programming open to all ages.
  • Department leased 12 acres at Johnny Appleseed Park (old Carrington Field location) to the County for the construction of Memorial Stadium in trade for 52 acres on North River Road contiguous with Maumee Park. In addition, the County provided $100,000 to help fund construction of two new ball diamonds to replace the two lost to the stadium. IPFW provided campus space for the two new diamonds. The new Carrington Field was completed in 1993.
  • New large area mowing operation implemented.


  • McMillen Ice Arena renovated with funds from Park Foundation and McMillen Foundation.
  • Carrington Field constructed on IPFW ground.
  • Lakeside Pond improvements completed with $155,000 from Indiana Waters grant.
  • Foster #1 Pavilion renovated.
  • Sand volleyball court constructed in Northside Park with financial help from Northside Neighborhood Association.
  • Botanical Conservatory celebrates 10th anniversary.


  • Decided to name Maumee Park after Gail Kreager and use his 1990 bequest to develop the park and establish a maintenance endowment.
  • New tournament quality lights installed at Swinney Tennis Center with funds from Park Foundation and Tennis Commission.
  • Strategic Master Plan developed for the Botanical Conservatory with funds provided by Foellinger Foundation.
  • Foellinger Theatre renovations included new seating and a new electrical system. Foellinger Foundation provided funding.
  • Lindenwood Environmental Study Area designated a state nature preserve. Name changed to Lindenwood Nature Preserve.
  • BMX track relocated from Rockhill Park to Franke Park.
  • Indonesian Exhibit opened at Children's Zoo driving summer attendance to all time high of 465,268 visitors.
  • Passed $8.9 million general obligation bond for park improvements.
  • Headwaters Park Phase I completed.
  • Kids’ Crossing Playground in Lawton Park constructed by community volunteers and funded by donations.
  • Department participated in Bicentennial Crabapple Tree project.
  • New irrigation system installed at Foster Park Golf Course.
  • Hosted USA Hockey National Pee Wee Tournament at McMillen Ice Arena.
  • Swinney Skateboard Center demolished and converted into in-line skating facility.


  • Lawton Park Maintenance Office destroyed by fire.
  • Ground breaking at Kreager Park.
  • Pool renovations begun at Northside, Swinney and McMillen pools as part of bond work.
  • Orangutan Valley exhibit opened at Children's Zoo as Phase II of Indonesian Exhibit.
  • Received 186 acre Salomon Farm from Chris Salomon and his daughter, Lynn.


  • The Department entered the information age with a new site on the world wide web.
  • Conservatory renovations underway with funding from Foellinger Foundation and Lincoln Life.
  • Began construction of Weisser Park Center, a $1.3 million bond funded project.
  • Headwaters Park Phase II completed.
  • Driving range constructed at Shoaff Park.
  • Franke Day Camp celebrates 50th anniversary.
  • Completed Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) survey of department facilities and developed a basic transition plan.
  • Northside, Swinney and McMillen Pools underwent major renovation. New features include water slides, water play areas, sand play areas, heated water, concession areas with tables and umbrellas.
  • Department received federal Americorp grant for Kids Connection Corp program.


  • Department hosted Indiana Park and Recreation Association annual conference.
  • The Botanical Conservatory's new entrance, lobby, meeting room and gift shop expansion begun in 1996 were completed. A ribbon cutting with Mayor Paul Helmke was held November 25 and a grand re-opening party was held November 26 with over 5,500 people in attendance.
  • Lakeside Rose Garden received much needed renovation including a new pergola, columns and wooden top structure, new paths, and 391 new rose bushes.
  • First annual Outdoor Adventure Challenge for boys and girls with physical disabilities was one of the year's most successful new programs.
  • The new Foster Garden Walkway was completed making the gardens more accessible to all visitors.
  • The Department celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Community Center (formerly the Senior Citizen's Center) with week long activities and events.  
  • The Indiana Power and Light Company's Golden Eagle Grant Program and NIPSCO's Environmental Grant Program provided the funding for wetland construction at Salomon Farm as part of ongoing park development.




  • Kreager Park opened to the public on April 24 with an inaugural softball tournament.
  • The Botanical Conservatory installed new hands-on educational exhibits as part of the renovation begun in 1996.
  • Major renovations completed at Memorial Pool.
  • Driving range constructed at McMillen Park
  • New tennis courts constructed at McMillen Park with funds provided by the Fort Wayne Sports Corporation.
  • The Department teamed up with the Fort Wayne Sports Corporation to create the Lifetime Sports Academy in McMillen Park. Offered are free golf, tennis and swimming lessons for youth ages 8-18.
  • Franke Park parking lot expansion project began and was halted almost immediately when opposing citizens (led by former park board president, John Shoaff) filed a law suit. Controversy and litigation continued through the year with no resolution.
  • Weisser Park Center was completed, dedicated and officially opened to the public early in the year.
  • Renovation and stabilization of Historic Old Fort structures was funded by ChemWaste monies.
  • The 35-year old Kuhneville Express Train Ride at Fort Wayne Children's Zoo carried its four millionth passenger in late summer. The entire 3,050 foot circuit of track was replaced with new rails and ties, the train station renovated and the train engine and coaches restored.
  • Foellinger Theatre received a new state of the art sound system funded by a 1997 Foellinger Foundation Anniversary Grant of $200,000.


  • The Park Board obtained revenue bonds to fund an additional sheet of ice at McMillen Ice Arena. Ground breaking on the new project was held on November 4.
  • Robert C. Arnold, Director of Parks and Recreation since 1954, retired.
  • Northside Park renamed Bob Arnold Northside Park.
  • Greg Purcell appointed Director of Parks and Recreation by mayor Paul Helmke upon retirement of Robert C. Arnold.
  • The Community Center parking lot off Berry Street was expanded from 24 spaces to 60 spaces.
  • Courthouse Green was conveyed to the Park Board from the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission.
  • Headwaters Park and the Old Fort were officially conveyed to the Park Board from the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission and the Board of Works.
  • Renovation of the old Wells Street Bridge completed.
  • 50th anniversary of the Foellinger Outdoor Theatre.
  • Began taking program registrations on-line through the web site.
  • Friends of the Parks of Allen County, Inc. formed under the leadership of Julie Donnell in response to the Franke Park parking expansion controversy.
  • Freimann Square lower plaza reconstruction completed. Rededication held May 24, 2000.
  • New playground equipment was purchased and installed in Lafayette Park by the Baker and Daniels Law Firm at a cost of $17,593.
  • 25th anniversary of the Johnny Appleseed Festival.
  • Exterior renovations and stabilization to Old Fort structures completed in November.
  • New sound and lighting installed at Foellinger Theater with funding from the Foellinger Foundation.
  • No supervised summer playground program was conducted for the first time in decades -- perhaps in as many as 70 years.
  • The Fort Wayne Zoological Society raised $3.8 million with their "Heart of the Zoo" campaign to rejuvenate the zoo’s 7-acre core.
  • Mayor Paul Helmke created the Franke Park Advisory Committee to examine the controversial Franke Park parking expansion issue and recommend possible solutions. The task force spent over 20 hours in meetings and public hearings. Their final recommendation, which was a significantly scaled-back lot, was accepted by the Park Board and the Zoological Society. Opponents of the original plan did not accept the compromise recommended by the Advisory Committee and litigation continued through 1999.


  • Board of Park Commissioners enter into an agreement with Headwaters Alliance, Inc. for the management of Headwaters Park.
  • Joined efforts and funds with Allen County Parks to prepare a 5-year master plan.
  • In June the City Council stepped into the Franke Park parking controversy and charged both sides in the dispute to develop a compromise or they would select a plan themselves. Mayor Graham Richard’s office became involved as well and by November a new plan agreeable to all parties was developed and approved by City Council.
  • Children’s Zoo "Heart of the Zoo" improvements include the addition of Kids’ Egg Walk, renovation of Little Poof, removal of the concrete amphitheater (in anticipation of the new sea lion exhibit), and the renovation of Monkey Island.
  • Interested citizens introduced the concept of a dog park.
  • Expansion and improvements of the McMillen Ice Arena completed at a cost of $4.5 million making it the largest single project in the history of the Parks and Recreation Department.
  • Adopt-a-Greenway program expanded to include ten sections.
  • Hamilton park redesigned by City Utilities to act as a water retention basin. In exchange, the park received major improvements including new basketball courts, new ball diamonds, new playground equipment and a paved jogging trail around the perimeter of the park.
  • A new fully accessible boardwalk, which meets the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), was constructed in Lindenwood Nature Preserve.
  • New animal hospital designed, constructed and brought into service for the Children’s Zoo.
  • Construction began on the Salomon Farm Learning Center.
  • Indiana Senate Bill 74, which substantially increases the penalty for indecent exposure in public parks, was signed into law.
  • Participated in a state-wide trail study conducted by the Eppley Institute at Indiana University.




  • Traditional Sunday night rock concerts moved from Freimann Square to Lawton Park.
  • Nuckles Memorial dedicated at the site of the old Hayden Park.
  • Hurshtown Reservoir opened.
  • Moncrief consultant team engaged to assist with implementation of Moncrief Management Study. A Marketing Manager was hired to work with the Moncrief Team.
  • Banquet and meeting rooms at Conservatory completely remodeled to be more functional for group use.
  • Terrace Garden at Botanical Conservatory dedicated. The Terrace Garden was developed with $500,000 from Foellinger Foundation.


  • Park Foundation funds used to purchase Lindenwood Environmental Study Area from Lindenwood Cemetery.
  • 10th anniversary of Senior Citizens Center.
  • Design firm contracted to evaluate swimming pools and provide concepts for remodeling.
  • Department received $111,000 from Land and Water Conservation Fund and Indiana Waters grants for further Rivergreenway development.
  • Department study by Dr. Louis Moncrief completed. Department characterized as "park driven". Recommended Department take steps to become more "market driven." Report include departmental reorganization.
  • Department reorganization plans (recommended by Moncrief study) were completed and partially implemented.
  • Staff formed marketing teams and received marketing education.
  • Strategic Marketing plan for Department was completed with aid of UPARR grant.
  • $2.8 million Australian Adventure opened at Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.


  • Department reorganization completed.
  • Department adopted marketing philosophy and mission statement.
  • Hosted the Annual Indiana Park and Recreation Association annual conference.
  • Franke Day Camp was extended to include 4-5 year old children.
  • Rivergreenway link between West Swinney and Foster Parks funded by LWCF grant.
  • Master plans developed for Shoaff, Franke, Maumee and Buckner Parks as well as Johnny Appleseed Campground, Foster Gardens and the four city pools.


  • Department adopted new logo.
  • Traditional Sunday evening free rock concerts were discontinued due to volume and traffic problems.
  • Park Foundation provided funds to purchase 16 acres north of Shoaff Park and two parcels on Goshen Road south of Franke Park.
  • Miner Center closed after 20 years of operation and leased to Boys and Girls Club for their use.
  • Prehistoric Giants exhibit featuring life-like robotic dinosaurs visits the Children's Zoo.
  • Swinney Skateboard Center opened.


  • Centralized, computerized registration system put in place.
  • Conservatory designated a plant rescue center for the USDA as part of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
  • Bridal Glen dedicated in Foster Gardens.
  • Received $3 million bequest from Gail Kreager estate with stipulation that it be used within 5 years to develop at least 50 acre park to be named after him.
  • Superintendent of Conservatory and Horticulture position created.
  • The Fort Wayne Zoological Society began working with Dr. Richard Tenaza of the University of the Pacific and the Indonesian Government to set aside a reserve on the Mentawai Islands to help save five species of endangered primates.  
  • Fort Wayne Children's Zoo hosted the Great Lakes Regional Conference of the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums.
  • Zoo celebrates 25th anniversary.
  • Forestry Division initiated comprehensive street tree maintenance program whereby trees are trimmed in a strategically planned order, one section of the city at a time.
Page 1 of 3
RFW Logo Hori RGB 01


NOW AVAILABLE!  Search for parks, trails, activities and more.

We want your feedback!

new_blue_64x64Take our on-line survey now!
This quick and easy survey will only take 1 minute or less and will provide us with valuable information!

Upcoming Events

Parks on Tap!
16 Oct 2019   6:00 pm -
Pumpkin Zone
19 Oct 2019  10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Halloween Haunt
19 Oct 2019   1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Nevermore: “The Tell-Tale Heart”
19 Oct 2019   6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Fright Night Lantern Tours
19 Oct 2019   6:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Translate Content


This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

treecityusalogosm kaboom_logo_narrow playful cityBirdTownIndianaLogo

Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation Department  705 E. State Blvd.   Fort Wayne, IN 46805  (260) 427-6000 • Office hours: Monday-Friday 8 am-5 pm