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11 neighborhood grants awarded

December 19, 2018

Motorists waiting for the light to change at Spring and Wells streets will soon have something colorful for their eyes to peruse : a new mural. 

To be created by Jerrod Tobias of Fort Wayne, the public art piece on the north wall of 1434 Wells St. is one of 11 neighborhood improvements funded by the city’s neighborhood grant program this year.

Grants of up to $5,000 were awarded Monday.

The grants fund capital improvements that enhance spaces within public view. They are given to Fort Wayne’s registered neighborhood associations and area partnerships that apply and meet federal income qualifications : a majority of households must be at or below 80 percent of the area’s median income.

The qualifications are set by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which distributes the dollars. 

Shawna Nicelley, proprietor of GI Joe’s Army Surplus Store and president of the Wells Corridor Business Association, said she had been talking to the artist about painting a mural on the north side of  the former Linda Lou’s used furniture store next to GI Joe’s.

Nicelley and her parents recently bought the building and are restoring it to two storefronts and upstairs apartments, she said.

When she heard about the neighborhood grant, she collaborated with Bud Mendenhall, president of the Bloomingdale Neighborhood Association, to develop the application.

The 30-by-80-foot mural will play off nature and historic themes, she said, because the street is named for William Wells, a white man who lived among the Miamis during pioneer days.

Tobias plans to depict a howling coyote, foxes, a river, sunset, a field of flowers a building to represent the street’s history.

“We gave him our thoughts, and he just ran with it,” Nicelley said.

“I don’t know how he does it.”

She added the $5,000 grant, plus she and the business association will pick up the costs, which include additional site preparation.

Tobias is known for the fancifully abstract East Columbia Street mural and the wild boar and Indian woman mural on the exterior wall of the Brass Rail at 1121 Broadway, among others.

Wells Street has other murals, including one of Fort Wayne landmarks on the south side of Hyde Bros. bookstore and one at Moring’s flower shop. 

The new mural is one of two funded by the neighborhood grants.

The other, also awarded $5,000, will be on the wall of Tasty Pizza at Fairfield Avenue and Maxine Drive in the Historic Fairmont neighborhood. 

Other projects funded for $5,000 are a dozen pole-mounted signs in the West Central neighborhood and a recreational green space called Peace Park, which was created from an underused parking lot by Simpson United Methodist Church and the Williams Woodland Park Neighborhood Association.

A new heating and air conditioning system for the Oxford Community Association’s community center also received $5,000.

Other grants:

• Nebraska Neighborhood Association, $4,800 for a welcome marker for the West Main Street business district

• Lafayette Place Improvement Association, $3,707.78 for a neighborhood market at Petit Avenue and South Calhoun street and landscaping for the blighted lot containing it

• Southwest Area Partnership, working with the Packard Area Planning Alliance, $1,526 for a marker that recognizes the former site of the historic Packard Piano and Organ Co. along Fairfield Avenue at Packard Park

• Pettit-Rudisill Neighborhood, $492 for sign replacement in a neighborhood-owned pocket park at Rudisill Boulevard and Robinwood Drive

• Historic South Wayne Neighborhood, $1,184 for seven pole-mounted neighborhood identification signs

• Mount Vernon Park Neighborhood, $4,800 for two neighborhood identification markers 

Projects must be completed by October.

rsalter@jg.net

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