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A pitch for the parks

August 29, 2018

Money raised through a capital campaign being launched today will fund maintenance and future improvements at Promenade Park, part of the riverfront project set to open as the city’s newest park next year.

The Fort Wayne Park Foundation, a booster organization founded in 1974, will announce the fundraising effort at a news conference this morning with city officials. Money raised will fund an endowment for future projects at the park.

Officials also will kick off a campaign for a “Build the Future Fund” to pay for maintenance, projects and “unexpected needs” at the city’s other parks.

The foundation has about $10 million in its coffers, but much of that money is earmarked for specific areas, making it difficult, leaders said, for the nonprofit to dole out money for parks as needs arise.

“We’ve never done anything like this,” foundation board member Kathy Callen said. “It’s going to be ongoing. We’re really committed to this park and all of the parks.”

Work began last year to develop the $20 million Promenade Park, along the St. Marys River between Harrison Street and the Wells Street Bridge. It is the first phase of the riverfront project and includes an amphitheater, a trail, a playground and a pavilion funded in part by the Park Foundation.

Grants, money from the city and donations were used to fund the project, but an endowment was not set up to pay for future needs. Callen said donors can contribute to a “nest egg” for Promenade and other parks through a website : fwparkfoundation.org.

Donors who give 4,999 will have their name etched into terrace steps at Promenade Park. For larger donations, contributors can have their name inscribed on a special wall at the park, Callen said.

Foundation board President Rick Phillips said donors can pledge as little as $1. The group does not have a fundraising goal, he said.

“We want community involvement,” Phillips said. “I want people to know they can support their parks, and it makes a difference.”

The foundation has provided money for projects and programs in several parks since it was established. The Park Foundation and the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne raised $1.55 million for the pavilion.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Steve McDaniel said public-private partnerships like the city’s and the foundation are necessary to provide and improve parks and programming.

“It only gives us more opportunities,” he said. 

City spokesman John Perlich lauded the foundation’s work in an email Tuesday.

“Dozens of committed residents have given their time and talent to the Park Foundation to make a meaningful difference,” he said. “High-performance partnerships, like the one between the Parks and Recreation Department the Park Foundation and the mayor’s office are designed to meet the needs of individuals, families and visitors.” 

mleblanc@jg.net

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