The Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department plans to spend $2.2 million next year on new improvements and continue projects worth more than $20.7 million.
Department officials and Mayor Tom Henry highlighted plans during a news conference Tuesday morning at Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory.
About $19.1 million of the $20.7 million will go to continuing Promenade Park construction for the riverfront. Included among the new projects are a long-awaited indoor connector from the conservatory to Embassy Theatre next door and a refurbishing of deteriorating Pavilion 3 in Foster Park.
The $650,000 connection to the Embassy stairwell tower would enable patrons to walk not only to the theater but also to Grand Wayne Center and downtown hotels in inclement weather without going outdoors, the mayor said.
He called the project “dear to my heart.”
Steve McDaniel, director of the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department, said the project is set to begin in the spring and should be finished by the end of October.
The Foster Park project would put a new roof on the pavilion and renovate masonry and wood columns, while also creating a path to the nearby Rivergreenway, McDaniel said.
The pavilion was No. 1 on the 2018 endangered list issued in May by ARCH, the city's nonprofit historic architecture preservation group.
“Foster Park Pavilion 3 is a Park-Rustic structure and has been an endangered resource for many years,” ARCH nominators noted.
“We want to bring the luster back to it and the use back to it,” McDaniel told The Journal Gazette after the news conference.
The cost, including kitchen and lighting upgrades, is listed at $400,000, with the completion date expected to be next December.
Among the proposed 2019 projects are a new rubberized roof at Weisser Park Youth Center for $225,000 and a new restroom building and sidewalk and playground improvements at Johnny Appleseed Park for $198,000.
Salomon Park's historic homestead improvements, at $400,000, will continue in 2019. Paving and drainage improvements for $178,000 will start next year as well.
Other new projects for 2019 are a new roof on Conklin Pavilion at Shoaff Park ($110,000); a safety turf surface for the Memorial Park playground ($59,700); pool equipment replacement at McMillen and Memorial parks ($108,000); shade structures and visual enhancements at McMillen and Northside parks ($52,500); and a new playground for ages 5 to 12 and sidewalk accessibility at Waynedale Gardens ($40,000).
Also planned for next year are golf cart paths' reconstruction at Foster Park ($105,000) and multipurpose flooring replacement at the Community Center ($78,000). The golf cart paths continue a $159,900 project from this year.
Other continuing improvements include riparian landscaping at Bloomingdale Park ($300,000) and work on a master plan for Franke Park ($72,500).
At the news conference, Henry said the number of parks and Fort Wayne residents' commitments to maintaining them contribute to the city's quality of place.
“That's what's selling Fort Wayne,” Henry said.