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NEIGHBORHOODS - MESSAGE FROM THE MAYOR

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Good news about an issue of great importance to our neighborhoods. Sidewalks! I recently announced that the City of Fort Wayne has developed a three-pronged sidewalk improvement plan that will begin in the 2014 construction season. The plan will address sidewalk and safety needs and benefit property owners/taxpayers who previously engaged in cost-share sidewalk projects with the City.

The highlights of the 2014 sidewalk improvement plan are:

•Reconstruction of 10 miles of concrete street. As part of these street projects, contractors will also be asked to repair sidewalks and curb ramps in the areas that will receive concrete street work. This new approach will be an efficient method of performing multiple projects in the same areas at one time.

•Public Works will bid sidewalk and curb ramp maintenance projects in selected neighborhoods that have asphalt streets.

•The City Street Department will work on smaller scale sidewalk (trip hazard) projects in neighborhoods throughout the City.

•Under the new sidewalk improvement plan, in most cases, property owners would no longer be responsible for cost-share sidewalk projects with the City. There may be instances where property owners would like to have additional sidewalk improvements occur. In those cases, the City is exploring options for cost-share partnerships.

The City plans to invest $500,000 in sidewalk maintenance in 2014. The investment is part of the overall $13.6 million for street and road maintenance next year without having to borrow money. My administration and City Council will also consider the possibility of issuing a bond to begin work on the backlog of street and road projects. This would make additional dollars available for extra infrastructure projects in future construction seasons.

Maintaining and enhancing our infrastructure is critical to being a City that's positioned for growth and success. We're committed to a great quality of life and having strong neighborhoods. We can meet those expectations by having safe and dependable sidewalks that assist our efforts to be a tremendous City for citizens and businesses.

We know sidewalks are important to our citizens, businesses and neighborhoods. We're looking forward to this new approach to address sidewalk needs.

On a related note, next year's balanced budget is a continuation of my administration's commitment to meeting the needs of citizens.

Some budget highlights include:
*Academy class for Fort Wayne Police Department – Result will be 20 new police officers
*Academy class for Fort Wayne Fire Department – Result will be 15 new firefighters
*Improvement/maintenance projects for Public Works and Parks
*Expense reduction of $5 million

There is positive momentum in our City. We're building stronger neighborhoods and enhancing our quality of life by being committed to providing excellent services that citizens and businesses need and expect.

The proposed budget reflects the collaborative efforts that have led to successful financial strategies to sustain the community and make Fort Wayne viable for years to come.

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Mayor Tom Henry
About This Author
A lifelong Fort Wayne resident, Mayor Thomas C. Henry is committed to public and community service. He was elected to his first term as Fort Wayne's Mayor November 6, 2007. Mayor Henry authors the "Message from the Mayor" column.
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