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Mayor Launches Community Dialogue

Citizen Input is Centerpiece of Process, Local Leaders to Serve on Task Force 

Keenly focused on building a stronger, more vibrant future for the people of Fort Wayne, Mayor Tom Henry today unveiled the framework for Legacy Fort Wayne, the community initiative to guide decision making about the Fort Wayne Community Trust and City Light Lease Settlement funds. He also named the co-chairs and members of the Legacy Fort Wayne Task Force that will direct the process, and outlined the community involvement component that will be a focal point of the work.

The announcement was held in the penthouse of Three Rivers Apartments offering both a fresh perspective on and a panoramic view of the city, the ultimate beneficiary of these funds. The monies at the heart of this effort will come from two sources: 1) the $39.2 million City Light Lease Settlement, reached by the City of Fort Wayne and Indiana Michigan Power (I&M); and 2) the approximately $36 million Fort Wayne Community Trust, established by the City 35-years ago using a portion of annual Light Lease payments.

While Legacy Fort Wayne will unfold over the next five months, the two funds will not become available until the settlement agreement has received the approval of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).

“The City Light Lease Settlement and the Fort Wayne Community Trust funds are a unique legacy for the people of Fort Wayne,” said Mayor Henry. “Through the resolution of longstanding City Light Lease issues and careful stewardship of our trust funds, our community is in a once-in-a-lifetime position. Our residents will have the chance to help discover uses for nearly $75 million. Though our times are difficult, our challenge is to look to the future, to think strategically, to be bold. Our mission must be to strengthen Fort Wayne and better position us for economic growth.”

To oversee Legacy Fort Wayne, Mayor Henry has formed a diverse, 15-member community Task Force. His 13 appointments include the two co-chairs and two members of Fort Wayne City Council. In turn, the City Council selections will pick the remaining two Task Force members from the community at large. The group will serve in an advisory capacity. It will investigate options, engage the public and make recommendations to the Mayor.

Answering the Mayor’s call to co-chair the Task Force are Quinton Dixie, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, and James Vann, Chairman, Board of Directors, Rea Magnet Wire Company, Inc.

The additional members of the Task Force tapped by the Mayor are as follows:
Marty Bender, Member, Fort Wayne City Council;
Terrell M. Bond, Jr., M.D., Vice President/Chief Medical Officer, Fort Wayne Neighborhood Health Clinic;
James E. Cook, President, Northeast Indiana Region, Chase Bank;
Jennifer Callison, Vice President, Mike Thomas Associates/F.C. Tucker;
Meg Distler, Executive Director, St. Joseph Community Health Foundation;
Joseph Dorko, Chief Executive Officer, Lutheran Health Network;
Martin Fisher, Executive Director, Science Central;
Cathy Hawks, Music Director, The Chapel;
Julie Inskeep, Publisher, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette;  
Timothy Pape, Member, Fort Wayne City Council; and
Wendy Robinson, Ed.D., Superintendent, Fort Wayne Community Schools.

“When I ran for Mayor, I made a pledge that when a settlement with I&M was achieved, I would ensure that our residents had the chance to contribute their own ideas and help to determine how we might best use these precious resources,” noted Henry. “Legacy Fort Wayne and its public involvement process are a promise kept. Let’s begin the conversation about our hopes and dreams, our wants and needs, our goals and priorities. Our choices must be ones we study thoughtfully and make together. Let’s use this treasure to enhance our community and make it a place of pride and opportunity for all of us.”

The community involvement component will feature a broad range of communications and outreach methods, both traditional and digital. It will be integrated into the work of the Task Force and be staffed by City personnel. The entire initiative, encompassing all Task Force meetings, will be open to the public and broadcast on City TV.

Information about Legacy Fort Wayne can be found online at www.LegacyFortWayne.org.

The first Task Force meeting is scheduled to be held on January 27 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Meeting Room 128, City-County Building. The community involvement component is anticipated to kick off in early March.

The settlement agreement between the City and I&M was signed on October 28, 2010. City Council gave the agreement its unanimous approval on November 23, 2010. The IURC process began on December 30, 2010.