As city of Fort Wayne staff members begin to plan out the 2017 budget, the City Council and neighborhood associations will be brought into the loop earlier in the planning process.
"Just because we think a particular area needs to be addressed from a structural perspective, doesn’t necessarily mean that reflects the needs, the wants and the desires of that neighborhood," Mayor Tom Henry said Thursday at a news conference announcing the start of this year’s neighborhood infrastructure improvement projects.
Council President Russ Jehl, R-2nd, said the council welcomes the opportunity to give additional input. Several council members have in the past complained that they are not given enough advance notice of upcoming projects and often hear about them for the first time through the media.
"Most council members are happy to have more interaction with public works," Jehl said. "In the current system, we really only get input one time a year. Any more interaction we could have would be a positive thing. I’m pleased to hear that the may or does want input from council."
The city’s 2016 investment totals about $25 million, Henry said Thursday at the Eagle Lake addition on the city’s north side. The improvements will include street and sidewalk repairs, as well as upgrades to the city’s trail network and Americans With Disabilities Act curbs. In all, crews will complete nearly 500 neighborhood improvement projects this year.
The city spent more than $20 million on neighborhood infrastructure improvements in both 2014 and 2015.
More than $670,000 is being invested in the Eagle Lake addition alone for concrete street, sidewalk and curb repairs and new ADA ramps. Citywide, the city will complete 9 miles of concrete street repair, 54 miles of asphalt resurfacing, 47,000 feet of sidewalk repair and 400 new ADA ramps. The neighborhood has had little work since it was built about 21 years ago, Public Works Director Bob Kennedy said.
In addition to Eagle Lake addition, city crews are working in the Eagle Creek neighborhood to the southwest, Hoevelwood addition to the southeast and Arlington Park to the northeast, Kennedy said.
In addition to the street and curb repairs, Fort Wayne City Utilities will invest more than $30 million in upgrades to its water and sewer systems this year.
Those improvements will include 9 miles of water main replacement and the installation of new stormwater and wastewater pipes.
"I do want to ask everybody for their patience, there will be a lot of orange barrels, a lot of construction areas throughout the entire city this year," Kennedy said.