Statement as distributed Friday by the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association:
Passenger rail for Northeast Indiana has taken several strides forward since Tuesday November 19 at the City Council’s Finance Committee Meeting.
Speaking on behalf of the Mayor Henry Administration, Councilman Geoff Paddock (D-5) announced the intention to take the Columbus-Fort Wayne-Chicago high speed passenger rail project back to City Council on December 10 for presentation, discussion, and endorsement. A resolution supporting $200,000 from existing economic development funds for the federally-required Tier One Environmental Impact Study will be discussed on December 10 at Fort Wayne City Council.
“It is so important that Fort Wayne moves forward as a leader and makes a solid contribution to this effort,” said Councilman Paddock. “Only then will we see other cities along the route come forward with their commitments, and only then will we begin to see progress on our goal to return passenger rail service to this area.”
Indiana cities and organizations partnering in the rail corridor project met on Tuesday, November 20 at Parkview Field to review progress on planning and predevelopment fundraising. Participants included Mayor Henry and Allen County Commissioners Nelson Peters and Therese Brown; Northeast Indiana Regional Coordinating Council; members of NIPRA, Inc.; the Fort Wayne Deputy Mayor; Mayors of Plymouth, IN; Warsaw, IN; and New Haven, IN; the Plymouth City Attorney; a representative of the City of Gary and Gary / Chicago International Airport; the City Administrator and other staff of the City of Valparaiso; representatives of the offices of Senator Joe Donnelly and Congressman Marlin Stutzman; representatives of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority; the Indiana Department of Transportation; the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission; and staff of the Planning Department / Community Development Division, City of Fort Wayne.
In response to Council President Tom Didier’s request for a show of hands in support of the passenger rail initiative as introduced to Fort Wayne City Council on November 19, six dozen citizens in the Council audience, including numerous students from Bishop Dwenger High School, raised their hands.
Comments by individual Council Members on November 19, including Councilmen Didier, Smith, Hines, and Shoaff, were overwhelmingly positive to the rail concept.
“The NIPRA Board does not care where the City’s financial support comes from,” said NIPRA Board President Fred Lanahan. “We are encouraged at the show of support both from the public at large and from individual Council Members.”
Significant funding from multiple public, corporate, and institutional sources has been raised for the rail corridor Feasibility Study & Business Plan, completed in January 2013. Contributors to the Plan and its dissemination included not only the City of Fort Wayne and the Allen County Commissioners, but also the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne; the City of Lima, OH; the Lima Community Foundation; the City of New Haven, IN; the City of Warsaw, IN; the City of Columbus, OH; the Orthopedics Capital Foundation, Inc (Warsaw); the Warsaw Kosciusko County Chamber of Commerce; the Kosciusko County Convention & Visitors Bureau; Steel Dynamics, Inc; Indiana Michigan Power; PNC (Fort Wayne); the Upstar Alliance of Realtors; and various individual private donors.
NIPRA Board President Lanahan thanked the citizens and volunteers who turned out in support of the proposal and invited them back to City Council at 5:30 on Tuesday December 10 to hear and support Paddock’s full-scale presentation of the rail project #RailFortWayne.