Fort Wayne City Council next week will consider eight of Mayor Tom Henry's proposals – totaling nearly $20 million – for the $75 million available to the city through its 2010 settlement with Indiana Michigan Power.
The spending package includes money for a riverfront development study; a higher education fund to draw colleges downtown; the conversion of Ewing Street and Fairfield Avenue to two-way traffic; and the renovation of the former McMillen Ice Arena into a community center, among others. Henry said the package contains the proposals that have the most support from all council members.
"The ones that we're bringing down next week are the ones we believe council has agreed to verbally," Henry said Friday in a news conference.
But the proposals up for discussion Tuesday only comprise half of the mayor's wish list, as city officials are still working to address concerns among council members about some of the other recommendations.
For example, Henry said, he would like to create a multimillion-dollar "set-aside" fund to help implement the $500,000 riverfront development plan, which is scheduled for completion next year or in 2014.
But some council members want to know exactly what the set-aside fund will go toward – infrastructure, land acquisition, matching grants and so forth – before they agree to it, Henry said. As an example, he pointed to former OmniSource site just north of downtown, known as the "north river" property, which the city wants to acquire.
City Council President Tom Smith, R-1st, said he understands that some council members may have questions about specific projects, but he would like to see the first eight proposals approved as a single package.
"Probably not every council member is supportive of everything in there. I have some questions about some of the proposals," Smith said. "My preference is that we pass this as a package. It's been so well vetted and talked about."
The Legacy fund was created with two main sources: A trust fund of roughly $36 million, built up since the 1970s by leasing the old City Light utility to I&M, and a $39 million settlement over I&M's purchase of the remaining City Light assets.