City highlights neighborhood sidewalk improvements

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (ADAMS) – The City of Fort Wayne put a spotlight on what it calls its proactive investments in neighborhood infrastructure, particularly sidewalks.

Since the 2018 construction season, nearly $8 million has been invested in existing sidewalk repair projects throughout the City through City funding and $1.3 million of that total through property owner cost-share resources.

On Tuesday, the City issued the following:

Also, additional funding is in place due to the adjustment in the local income tax in 2017 to provide more funding for sidewalks, alleys, and riverfront development. Since 2018, there has been $19.2 million invested in alleys and sidewalks. Alleys ($6.8 million), new sidewalk construction ($8.9 million), and existing sidewalk reconstruction ($3.5 million, which is part of the nearly $8 million total listed above).

Overall neighborhood infrastructure investments since 2014, which include streets, roads, sidewalks, alleys, curbs, ADA ramps, and bridges, have totaled more than $200 million. This year, plans call for a record $38.5 million in neighborhood infrastructure enhancements.

Fort Wayne’s innovative sidewalk program prioritizes addressing the greatest needs in the community. Some sidewalk projects involve a cost-share between the City and residents. It’s a popular and beneficial program for neighborhoods.

An ordinance was introduced at last week’s City Council meeting and scheduled for discussion at tonight’s City Council meeting that would make some areas of the City eligible to have sidewalks replaced at no cost to residents and would prioritize legacy neighborhoods and sidewalks with high amounts of foot traffic within certain boundaries.

The City Administration would like to see the proposed ordinance improved by using it as an opportunity to put a community plan into action in partnership with the City’s Public Works and Community Development divisions and neighborhoods by promoting the principles of equity and continuing to target investments in areas that have experienced less economic growth.

For this reason, we’d like the part of the investment that would be provided at no cost to the residents to be focused on the neighborhoods in qualified census tracts, a term meaning a neighborhood in an area where the income is below a certain income threshold (50% of households with incomes below 60% of Area Median Gross Income (AMGI).

The way the ordinance is written, residents who are in a position to cost-share the improvements would not have to pay anything. We know that many residents are in that position to participate in a cost-share arrangement given the wide success of the cost-share program. By targeting it to our neighborhoods where many of the neighbors cannot afford to participate, we’re helping those most in need and making the dollars go further.

The City Administration looks forward to working with City Council to increase investments in our neighborhoods. We recognize that neighborhoods are the backbone of growing and thriving cities.