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Fort Wayne Files Lawsuit Over Riverfront Land

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SWA/City of Fort Wayne
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The City of Fort Wayne Parks Department has filed an eminent domain lawsuit against three property owners, in an effort to purchase their land along Superior Street for the City’s riverfront development project.

The three property owners declined the city’s collective $1.26 million offer to purchase the land in April, and now the parks department is seeking condemnation of the property in order for it to be purchased.

John Steckbeck is one of the property owners. He says he declined the City’s offer because of a $1 million offer he received last October.

Fort Wayne Director of Parks and Recreation Al Moll says ownership of the property is essential for the riverfront development project to move forward.

“That property is really the key focal point of the overall riverfront development," said Moll. "So our hope was to buy that property and convert it into public purpose, which would be a major park and promenade both on the north and south side of the river.”

Moll notes that the city already has ownership of the property on the north side of the river. He says park law in Fort Wayne allows for use of eminent domain as long as the property is used for the public purpose.

“At this point, we’re just following the statute and following park law, so we obviously feel it’s the proper course and a fairly valid course to take," he said. "Now, I’m sure there will be an objection to that, but our position is, it’s pretty solid.”

Property owners have 30 days to file objections subject to judicial review before court proceedings begin. The first hearing in the lawsuit is set for August 16.

Zach joined 89.1 WBOI as a reporter and local host for All Things Considered. He currently hosts Morning Edition.
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