Having spent much of my weekend cleaning out my flooded basement, I can’t avoid reflecting on the recent storm of Wednesday, June 26. As you have probably heard, that storm is considered a “50-year storm” and definitely hit several areas of Ft. Wayne very hard. Eight inches of rain were dumped in the Time Corners area in a couple of hours. The rain wasn’t quite as heavy in the “Waynedale News” area but high winds knocked out AEP electrical lines and lots of homeowners and some businesses in the Waynedale and Indian Village area were without power, flooded, or both. The unusual nature of the storm made it difficult for every agency involved to respond effectively. City and county officials including the police and fire command staff were on site at the Emergency Operations Center at the City-County Building on the night of the storm. County Emergency Preparedness and the Health Department were also represented. The Street and Park Departments worked hard to open up blocked streets. NIPSCO had representatives in the area to reconnect gas service when necessary. AEP took 48 hours to re-establish electrical service but eventually the lights came on after some prodding by yours truly as well as by neighborhood leaders and citizens who called repeatedly. Thanks to all of those utility workers who got the job done. It’s difficult to prepare for an event of this type but everyone involved learned a few lessons that can hopefully be applied in the future. Let me know if you have any feedback regarding the response of local emergency agencies as well as the public utilities to the June 26th storm or suggestions for how the “system” can work better in the future.

I’ve weighed in recently on the controversy over whether Smith Field, the local airport on the city’s north side, should or should not be closed. As you probably know, the Airport Authority recently voted 6-4 to close Smith Field. Since then, several public statements have been made suggesting that the Airport Authority moved too rapidly to vote on the Smith Field question. I personally do not feel that this was the case. Initially it appeared to me that citizens who wanted to comment on the Smith Field question were having difficulty being heard. Subsequently the Airport Authority was deluged with input from concerned citizens, elected officials, pilots, and the media. Eventually there was an opportunity for a wide variety of views to be heard. I support the Authority members in voting after giving more time for public input. I didn’t want them to become bogged down in the Smith Field issue to the point that they were distracted from their most important duty—keeping a close eye on the Fort Wayne International Airport which is very important to the future of our community.

I’ve watched with interest the recently completed battle over the 2003 Indiana budget at the statehouse in Indianapolis. Congratulations to representatives and senators and to the governor for making a few compromises to get the job done. Gradually decreasing the business inventory tax should help bring new businesses and jobs to our state. Likewise, property owners were given some welcome relief from the major increases in property taxes projected for future years. I encourage every citizen and voter who reads these words to thank state officials for their diligence. As we near the fall elections, lets also keep the heat on these same individuals to stop beating up on members of the other political party and to work together and compromise when necessary as they recently demonstrated they can do.

One other item: I’ve asked the City’s Traffic Engineering division to repeat a traffic count at the Lower Huntington Road-Bluffton Road intersection. Many changes have occurred around that intersection including the closure of Liberty Drive. My prediction is that a future traffic count will verify what many drivers who drive through that intersection already know—signalized turn lanes are definitely needed.

Have a great summer!


Tom Hayhurst
City Councilman 4th District