FORT WAYNE – Gen. Mad Anthony Wayne traveled across the colonies fighting in the Revolutionary War, but his statue in Freimann Square isnt going anywhere.
An offer by the nonprofit Courthouse Preservation Trust to spend up to $100,000 in private money to enhance the visibility of the historic statue of Fort Waynes namesake led to an agreement just seconds before City Council members were set to vote on a resolution Tuesday night decrying a move to the Courthouse Green.
Mayor Tom Henry first began discussing moving Waynes statue to the Courthouse Green several months ago, but the Preservation Trust, which raised money to preserve the landmark Courthouse and create the Green, vehemently opposed it from the start.
Last week, the mayor announced the move – estimated to cost less than $75,000 in parks spending – would be completed this fall, despite the Preservation Trusts opposition. Both Freimann Square and the Courthouse Green are city parks, and the spending was legally subject only to approval by the Board of Parks Commissioners, appointed by the mayor.
But just before the council was to consider a nonbinding resolution opposing the spending, Parks Director Al Moll approached Preservation Trust President Madelane Elston, saying he had the mayor on the phone and he was willing to take the Preservation Trust up on its offer of $100,000 to enhance the statue in its current location.
With the enthusiastic support of Elston and Ian Rolland, Moll informed the council and the resolution was withdrawn.
Trust officials have always said the Courthouse Green should frame the Courthouse and should never detract from its solemn purpose and architectural grandeur. They spent years and $3 million to buy and clear the land, which was dedicated as a park in 1999.
All he ever wanted was greater visibility for the statue, and this is a way to accomplish that goal, Moll said.
John Crawford, R-at large, who introduced the resolution along with Mitch Harper, R-4th, said he wasnt opposed to the move, only the discretionary spending at a time when income taxes had to be raised.
This was supposed to be a year of necessities, and this was something that wasnt necessary, Crawford said. When we say were going to watch every penny, $75,000 is 7.5 million pennies.
Glynn Hines, D-6th, voted to oppose introducing the resolution because he thought it would be better for both sides to work out the issue. Little did I know they had already done that, Hines said.
Elston showed council members a proposal by RATIO Architects of Indianapolis, which designed the Courthouse Green, for removing some trees, pruning others, installing lighting and framing the statue with plantings to make it visible from both Clinton and Main streets and better frame it within Freimann Square.
Moll said the proposal will be withdrawn from Thursdays parks board meeting, which had been moved downtown to accommodate the expected crowd opposing the move.