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Parks History 1998-2000

1998-2000

Year

Event

1998

  • 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.

1999

  • 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.

2000

  • 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.

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