City staff and I recently visited with homeowners in the Dalevue and Fernwood neighborhood. I'm very concerned for all the residents who've experienced flooding challenges. They've suffered too much. I've directed additional staff members to work on a solution. We're looking at an approach that includes a combination of infrastructure improvements, an earthen berm to protect properties from floodwaters, pumping operations and some home buyouts.
We've been working on the flooding situation along the Fairfield Ditch in Waynedale since the early 2000s. It's been a partnership with the Army Corp of Engineers. We have a good working relationship with federal agencies like the Army Corp and FEMA, but their funding is reduced and sometimes that makes the process take too long. The residents in the Dalevue/Fernwood area, for example, have suffered long enough and that's why I've committed additional resources to assist this neighborhood and its residents.
City Utilities currently has a larger capacity stormwater pipe and additional storm drains under design for the intersection of Dalevue and Fernwood. I expect that will bid this fall and it will be constructed next year. It will greatly increase the capacity and move stormwater, like the heavy rains we had recently, to flow out of the area much quicker. Additionally, we'll look at other protection for the area and some home buyouts.
We've had great success at reducing flooding in our community with projects that combine various approaches. The areas of Winchester Road, the Woodhurst area, Park/Thompson neighborhood and others are great success stories of ways we have dealt with chronic flooding in our community.
On another note, we recently kicked off the 4th season of Fort Wayne's Trek the Trails. So far, it has been a great success, with more than 170 bike riders turning out for our first event on Tuesday, May 7! The free, guided community bike rides are still the main course of Trek the Trails – we have 27 rides planned through October 1. But, we also have new additions that are sure to whet your appetite.
Five of the events will incorporate Trail Mixers, with food available after the ride, offering a chance to grab a bite to eat while getting to know other trail users. This season will also offer a 1- to 2-mile walk on the trail, at the same time as the bike ride.
Our trails are inviting – they're for all ages and I'm glad to see them being used throughout the community. The addition of the mixers will offer residents a chance to socialize with old and new friends. Trek the Trails is a great way to explore our 70-mile trail network that winds through urban and rural areas around the City. For a schedule of the trail rides, go to www.cityoffortwayne.org/component/content/article/2451.html.
On a final note, the City of Fort Wayne is honored to have been named a Playful City USA for the fourth consecutive year. We were recognized for our efforts in making play a priority for the health and well-being of area children. Nationwide, Fort Wayne is one of 217 cities named a 2013 Playful City USA Community by the non-profit organization, KaBOOM!
Our outstanding parks and recreational programs provide opportunities for families and children to play close to home. We continue to go to great lengths to ensure that our residents have access to parks, playgrounds, trails and other recreation areas that enhance our community's health and quality of life.
Studies have shown that play is essential to the social, emotional, cognitive and physical well-being of children. And, we know that today's generation of children play less than any previous generation, despite the vast benefits of play.
As summer approaches, I hope you and your families make time to enjoy our wonderful parks and playgrounds, trails and recreation areas.
Have a safe Memorial Day weekend!