As you are probably aware, there has been an ongoing effort to strengthen Fort Wayne’s downtown. Our central city is often described as the anchor for the community and I agree with that viewpoint. If you compare our city’s downtown area now, to the situation in the 1970’s, there has already been quite a bit of progress. There are new office buildings and other older buildings have been spruced up quite a bit. The beautiful courthouse plaza really adds to the appeal of downtown and so do great public gathering places such as Freimann Square and Headwaters Park where festivals are being held throughout the spring and summer. We’ve come a long way. Private support as well as the support of public advocacy organizations such as the Downtown Improvement District has made the difference. Occasionally I read a letter to the editor or hear a comment suggesting that we should forget about our downtown and let “nature take its course.” I believe that visitors to our city, local citizens, and other individuals such as business people who are deciding whether to locate a new business in Fort Wayne often see our downtown as a symbol of the character of our community. When I also see all of the enthusiastic kids and others at events such as the Three Rivers’ Festival I can’t help but be a strong supporter of downtown development.

During the last 2 or 3 years there has been quite a bit of discussion regarding the proliferation of sexually oriented businesses such as strip clubs and adult bookstores in Fort Wayne. It is a fact that there are very few sites where a new business of this type could legally open in our city at this time. The city of Mishawaka has taken this matter quite a bit further by passing legislation that restricts these businesses and what type of activities occur on their premises. The Mishawaka ordinance was challenged in the Indiana courts and Mishawaka’s position was upheld. I’ve received a few calls expressing the opinion that Fort Wayne needs to apply similar restrictions here. I’m interested in how you feel about this issue—does our city need to further restrict businesses of this type? Let me know what you think!

Recently it came to light that the Airport Authority was considering closing Smith Field. That airport has been used less and less in recent years but then it doesn’t seem to have been kept up very well. The debate surrounding Smith Field has obviously consumed much of the Airport Authority’s time. I have my doubts that Smith Field can function as an important airport on a long term basis without a major infusion of private dollars. Whether this will happen remains to be seen. At this point the Smith Field “problem” should be dealt with as quickly as possible. The most important role of the Airport Authority is to look after our city’s excellent international airport. The questions regarding Smith Field need to be resolved soon so the Airport Authority can focus clearly on its major responsibility—Fort Wayne International Airport.

Don’t forget to fly your flag as you enjoy the fireworks and other celebrations surrounding Independence Day—the 4th of July. Also, the Three Rivers Festival, which is much more oriented toward kids and is a great family activity, is scheduled for next month. See you there!


Tom Hayhurst
City Councilman-4th District

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