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Residents weigh in on riverfront

Survey shows recreational, green spaces most wanted

– Fort Wayne residents want recreational and natural habitat space along their downtown riverfront.

They also want sitting places, mixed-use development, a little something for winter activities, as well as entrepreneurial space.

At least that’s what 2,600 people told city officials through a survey that will be included in a $500,000 riverfront development study currently underway.

Results of the survey – most residents responded online with a few hard copies from various events thrown in – were released Thursday.

“Recreation and natural habitat stood out as having the most interest from respondents,” Pam Holocher, deputy director of community development, said in a news release.

“However, those taking the survey were also interested in a variety of other options along the riverfront,” she continued. “They were enthusiastic about all the ideas.”

In the survey, residents ranked various ideas – such as “how important are interesting sitting places” or “how important is recreation on the river” – as not important, no opinion, important or very important.

Recreation along the river, recreation off the river, mixed-use development and natural habitat space were said to be very important by most of those partaking of the survey.

Other categories, like the importance of having interesting sitting places or active spaces were ranked as important.

The only category that showed somewhat of a split was the importance of housing.

Roughly half of the respondents said housing was important or very important while the other half said it was not important or had no opinion.

Still, city officials touted the survey findings.

“People are clearly excited about the momentum they see in our community and are looking forward to the continued growth and vibrancy that enhancing our riverfront will encourage,” Mayor Tom Henry said in a statement.

The consultant group handling the study, SWA Group, will review the survey findings as well as comments from public meetings this past March. They also will review ideas submitted online and other ideas expressed at the Envision Fort Wayne Center, at 916 S. Calhoun St., a location established for residents to drop off ideas regarding the riverfront.

This month, SWA Group will present concepts at two public meetings at the Allen County Public Library downtown.

The first will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. July 23, and the second will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 24.

Residents can also check for updates on the riverfront.