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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Freshmen at New Tech Academy in Wayne High School present their visions for Fort Wayne to community leaders Friday. From left are Demante Walker, Michael Roberts, Jay Snyder of Moss Building Products and Danielle Duff.

Students envision future Fort Wayne

Rivers, parks, businesses, even aquarium built into plans

One plan had a 100,000-square-foot aquarium with a glass dome.

Two others placed monuments in the center of town, a la Indianapolis and Paris.

And another placed parks along the river in hopes of bringing people back to the water, just like Native Americans and early settlers who survived along those banks.

Those are some examples of a new Fort Wayne that ninth-graders at New Tech Academy, within Wayne High School, dreamed up for visitors and public officials Friday.

“We had no budget,” said Andrew Crowell, meaning there were no restrictions on what he and his fellow students could put into the project.

The students were split into groups and used computers to create buildings and maps.

Crowell’s group gave the city a giant aquarium like the one in Newport, Ky., as well as a large arcade with Lazer Tag, video games and other types of fun.

The group’s vision of The Fort included bringing back businesses such as General Electric and International Harvester and attracting newer companies, as well.

“We learned about sizes of business buildings and how to better place them in a city,” Crowell said. “It’s tricky.”

Armani Lewis’ group placed many parks along the rivers of Fort Wayne, especially downtown.

“That’s the reason people moved around there at first, the rivers,” Lewis said.

On his team’s map was a mall that bridged over one river and an outlet mall to go along with stadiums and other forms of entertainment.

“I would like to see more opportunities to bring people downtown,” Lewis said.

A downtown riverfront study underway now invites the public to share ideas.

This month, Mayor Tom Henry opened the Envision Fort Wayne Center, a downtown storefront to gather input from residents on riverfront development.

With renovations, rent, utilities and furniture paid for by a Knight Foundation grant, the center will be staffed by city officials three days a week, with additional hours during downtown festivals and events.

Officials want to hear from residents what they envision for the downtown riverfront.

That input will be part of the $500,000 riverfront development study.