Streets, Trees Top List of City Needs to Benefit from Recaptured State Dollars 

Fort Wayne, Ind. – Underscoring his commitment to healthy neighborhoods and an economically vibrant Fort Wayne, Mayor Tom Henry today unveiled key elements of his Restoration Funding Program. The $5 million neighborhood enhancement dollars are part of the $8.5 million in taxes returned to the City by the State of Indiana following its recent fiscal errors. 

These vital resources will be directed into two primary areas: 1) $3.5 million in transportation and related-infrastructure improvements; and 2) $1.5 million for the ash tree mitigation effort.

“Thanks to careful stewardship and conservative management, Fort Wayne has been able to deliver excellent services throughout difficult economic times. Nevertheless, the State’s financial mistakes put further stress on local governments,” observed Mayor Henry. “The Restoration Funding Program takes the funds withheld in error by the State, now rightfully returned, and puts them to work where they’re needed most, right in our neighborhoods.”

The $3.5 million infusion of resources dedicated to neighborhood streets and associated transportation projects will more than double the amount of work that the City can accomplish this year, ensuring over 42 miles of roadway repairs. The 2012 City budget dedicated $2 million to street projects. The expanded total now is $5.5 million.

“We’re turning lemons into lemonade for our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Henry. “Through the Restoration Funding Program we now have an added $5 million to invest across the city. That means, this year we’ll be able to improve 42 miles of streets and boost resources by $1.5 million in our fight to preserve our green canopy and overcome the impact of the emerald ash borer.”

Highlights of the 2012 street and road improvements’ program include widening projects on Old Auburn Road and Lake Avenue, along with safety projects on Jefferson Boulevard at Taylor Street, Covington Road at Dicke Road and Leesburg Road at Spring Street.

More than 30 concrete projects will also be tackled, with major efforts on Clinton Street, Washington Center Road and Coldwater Road. Additionally, paving projects will focus on portions of Bluffton Road, South Wayne Avenue, Tillman Road, Maplecrest Road, Trier Road, Parnell Avenue, Maumee Avenue and Ludwig Road.

The full list of 2012 City street and transportation projects accompanies this document.

Having launched a full-on attack on the emerald ash borer infestation in 2008 with the development of a comprehensive 10-year plan to address it, Mayor Henry today augmented the funds devoted to the battle this year with $1.5 million from the Restoration Funding Program. This brings the total expenditure to date on renewing the City’s street trees to $2.8 million.

From 2008 through 2012, the City will have removed 10,500 diseased street trees and pressed forward with its replacement endeavors by planting 3,155 new trees. This aggressive approach will see nearly 80 percent of the affected ash trees (those in the park strips and on other City property, but not in the parks) removed by the end of the year.

The City’s Emerald Ash Borer Plan was recently honored by the State. Fort Wayne is one of a few localities in the state to have a thorough plan to manage the issue.

The Restoration Funding Program also yields positive economic news for the community. The 2012 projects will use local contractors and create construction jobs. It is estimated that an extra 200 jobs, beyond the number spurred by the actual project work, will be supported by the increased economic activity generated.

“The Restoration Funding Program is an investment in the livability of our neighborhoods and the economic health of our community,” noted Mayor Henry. “You’ll see projects in every corner of this city, and those projects will, in turn, create hundreds of good-paying jobs. Of greater importance, as we strengthen our community, we ensure that Fort Wayne remains a city built for success – ready to compete for the new jobs and business growth that we need to thrive.”

The remaining $3 million of the Restoration Funding Program has been prudently set aside to bolster the City’s savings while the State’s financial audit to concentrate on its accounting issues is underway.

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