Jehl, Ensley: Downtown project should only get one funding request
A downtown development project should get only one bite of the public apple.
That was the message this morning from two Fort Wayne City Council members who oppose an additional $1.4-million request for The Landing project in the 100 block of West Columbia Street.
Russ Jehl, R-2nd, and Paul Ensley, R-1st, said allowing additional money for streetscape improvements could trigger a so-called claw-back clause that could scuttle Legacy funding for the project.
“We simply cannot head down this track without extreme caution,” Jehl said.
Because of past experiences with projects that received public funding and then asked for more, Jehl said he recommended an amendment to the original development agreement allowing only one funding request.
The provision, which council approved late last year, allows reopening the entire agreement should the developer come back with a second request.
He said “council and the public” weren’t told about the need for the money, although it was included in funding documents provided to the state.
Ensley said because the money would come from the same funding as neighborhood improvements for streets and sidewalks, the request deprives neighborhoods of repairs in favor of downtown.
Ensley said $1.4 million “could do a lot in the First District, as well as other districts.”
The bill, proposed by Mayor Tom Henry’s administration, will be discussed at a City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. tonight in Room 30 of Citizens Square.
The proposed improvements would remove existing sidewalks, asphalt and curbs and create a pedestrian friendly plaza that could be closed to vehicle traffic for special events.
The funding is in a contract between the city and Strebig Construction, Fort Wayne.
For more on this story, see Wednesday’s print edition of The Journal Gazette or visit www.journalgazette.net after 1 a.m. Wednesday.