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Parks Board vote paves way for Cindy’s Diner move to start

– Work to move Cindy’s Diner to the Community Center parking lot could begin as soon as next week, Parks Department officials said Thursday.

The iconic diner must move from its location at Wayne and Harrison to make room for the massive Ash Brokerage development, which will cover most of the city block with two towers and a parking garage. The new location for the beloved diner is about a block away, at Berry Street and Maiden Lane.

But placing the diner there will take up about 10 badly needed parking spaces, said the Parks Department’s Steve Schuhmacher, so the parking lot is being reconfigured at the expense of the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission, which is overseeing the Ash project.

Parks Board members voted unanimously to approve a contract of $53,592 with Brooks Construction for the parking lot work, which will shift the 10 spots to the area where the shuffleboard courts and horseshoe pits are currently, on the west side of the Community Center building.

A separate contract, this one for $56,428 with Brooks will move and reconstruct the shuffleboard courts; the horseshoe pits will be replaced by raised planters and new benches.

Officials said the Redevelopment Commission is expected to consider the expense Monday; utilities have already been located and work is expected to begin as soon as Redevelopment gives the green light. Cindy’s Diner could make the move in June.

Board members also voted unanimously to approve a move that could result in a new city park.

Parks Director Al Moll said the federal government owns the old Franklin School site on St. Marys Avenue but is considering giving it to the city. If that happens, he said, the city would pay to demolish the existing buildings on the site and prepare it for the Parks Department to develop it into a park.

Moll said officials will work with the neighborhood to see what residents want in the park; one possibility is putting in the splash pad that had been planned for nearby Hamilton Park.

Board members also heard an update on the new McMillen Community Center, which had its HVAC system severely damaged when a squirrel got into the electrical system in April and caused a power spike.

The community center is set to open June 7, but officials are not sure if it will be ready by then.

Moll said that rather than repair the HVAC, officials have decided to replace it entirely – but they aren’t sure whether insurance will cover the replacement cost or only the repair cost.

The McMillen Ice Arena closed in 2009. A $1.9 million project has transformed it into a community center hosting basketball, an indoor track and other activities. The huge spaces that once held sheets of ice will be home to multipurpose rooms that can house basketball courts and artificial turf for indoor soccer.

Thursday’s board meeting was held at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, where Zoo Director Jim Anderson told members that 33,000 visitors have been to the zoo in the first 12 days of the season.

dstockman@jg.net

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