FORT WAYNE – Parks board members and Courthouse Preservation Trust officials inked an agreement Wednesday ending a nine-month dispute over the Anthony Wayne statue in Freimann Square.
The deal also establishes an architectural review committee that must unanimously approve any changes to the Courthouse Green.
Mayor Tom Henry had proposed moving the statue to the Courthouse Green, saying it would make the statue of Fort Waynes namesake much more visible and enhance the Allen County Courthouse.
But the preservation trust, which raised money for the renovation of the landmark courthouse and also raised money to clear and create the Courthouse Green, objected strenuously, saying anything placed on the green would detract from the historic courthouse.
In August, just minutes before the City Council was to vote on a non-binding resolution opposing the statue move, the mayor accepted the preservation trusts offer of $100,000 to enhance Freimann Square to make the statue more visible where it is. The plan calls for trimming trees, removing shrubbery and installing lighting.
Wednesday, that deal was formalized through a settlement agreement spelling out the trusts donation of $100,000 or more, if needed, and restrictive covenants that will be filed today setting up an architectural review committee that must unanimously approve any changes to the Courthouse Green beyond annual landscaping work.
The committee will be made up of a representative from the parks board, the mayors office and the preservation trust, which led to concerns by some board members.
Member Bill Zielke said that essentially gives the trust veto power.
If you have someone who takes the position that nothing should ever be in that courtyard, it seems that by default, they can stop anything, Zielke said.
Parks Director Al Moll said that is essentially how things operate now, as city officials have generally bowed to any objections the trust has made in the past.
Preservation Trust President Madelane Elston said the trust estimates it will cost about $40,000 to enhance the statue.
The extra money will be used for renovations; studies the trust had performed show it is deteriorating and in need of repair.
Trust attorney J. Phillip Burt said the $100,000, which has already been raised, will be paid in quarterly installments in 2014 unless the city requests money sooner, in which case it will be paid within 30 days.
Board members approved the agreement and restrictive covenants 3-0; member Pamela Kelly was absent.
The board also approved contributing $25,000 toward the $100,000 cost for a new ice chiller for the skating rink at Headwaters Park and a $97,400 contract with Wayne Asphalt for paving in Johnny Appleseed Park campground.