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Parks History 2004-2014





  • 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


 Coming Soon!

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