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MAYOR TOM HENRYJust like the front doors to our homes, our city's front doors help to sell our community. With this in mind, I recently announced an initiative designed to make our city more attractive to economic investment.  It's called Front Door Fort Wayne: A Plan to Enhance Our City's Gateways and it is a comprehensive strategy for improving the appearance, efficiency and economic potential of the major points of entry into our city.

Some have asked what a gateway is and why it's so important. A gateway is defined as a landmark or single structure, a district or geographic area or a major corridor leading into Fort Wayne. Those points of entry could be interstate interchanges, major thoroughfares, significant access routes and entrances to downtown.

Our entire community benefits from the improvement of our gateways. We call it the economics of the first impression; and it can mean all the difference to businesses making decisions about where to invest and create jobs. This new strategy -- crafted with the input of business, neighborhood and community leaders -- highlights ways we can put our best foot forward, fostering pride and promoting growth.

The planning process was launched in 2010 when I appointed the Front Door Fort Wayne Advisory Committee, a diverse group of 14 community volunteers. Working with city planners, members sought community input, identified key entry points and ways to enhance them, and prioritized project ideas and policies.

The group also developed long- and short-term recommendations to improve the function and aesthetics of gateway entrances and corridors into the city and downtown. Project recommendations include improved directional signage to major attractions; interchange or lighting enhancements; public art; roadway design to better accommodate bicyclists, pedestrians, transit users and automobiles; and aesthetic improvements that celebrate and promote the community.

An important plan element is the "Wayfinding Program", a comprehensive system of well-designed signs to help visitors and residents navigate the community with ease.

Key transportation corridors that will be addressed are Ardmore Avenue, Airport Expressway, Jefferson Boulevard, US 27 (Lafayette and South Clinton Street), Washington Boulevard, Maysville Road/Stellhorn Road/Crescent Avenue, Coliseum Boulevard, Coldwater Road and North Clinton Street, Lima Road and Dupont Road.

Because Fort Wayne's front doors are vital to our economic future the City of Fort Wayne is dedicating nearly $420,000 to this initiative from the nearly $8.5 million in taxes withheld in error by the State of Indiana and recently returned to the City of Fort Wayne. I am also challenging area businesses other community entities to partner with the City in bringing these gateways to life. To learn more about these partnering opportunities contact Pam Holocher at 427-1127.

Speaking of gateways, as many of you know, we recently hosted a dedication and lighting ceremony for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge – a spectacular gateway into downtown. More than 1,500 residents joined me and Dr. Derek King, Sr. – the nephew of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. – at the June 4 event, were uplifted by the Voices of Unity choir and joined us in a unity walk across the bridge. If not, please take a moment stop by and see it. Or go online to see photos of the event, at www.cityoffortwayne.org/MLKBridge.

On a final note, I am inviting city high school students to get involved in their community and learn more about city government by applying to join the Mayor's Youth Engagement Council. The deadline to apply is June 22. Applications are available at www.cityoffortwayne.org/myec, and may be faxed to (260) 427-1115 or mailed to Mayor's Office, 200 E. Berry St., Fort Wayne, IN  46802.


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