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Rivers, traffic and data discussed during Fort Wayne neighborhood presidents meeting

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Zach Bernard/WBOI News
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The Fort Wayne Neighborhood Planning and Activities Workgroup hosted its first neighborhood presidents meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic put them on hiatus.

Several groups and organizations shared their current projects and goals for the next year around the City of Fort Wayne.

Drain Marking

Pam Holocher of Friends of the Rivers says her organization is asking neighborhoods to participate in a five-step effort focused on “marking” drains around the city. It’s in conjunction with the city’s “Clean Drains Fort Wayne” program.

“What we’re asking people to do is to keep an eye on them to keep them clean, and then the other part is to ‘mark’ your drains with a plastic medallion and to put those on a curb by your drain,” Holocher said.

She says that neighborhoods have anywhere from two to 200 storm drains, depending on where one lives, and that pollution in an area can flow into those drains and, before long, into the rivers.

Holocher hopes neighborhoods will designate captains to lead the effort in their area; Friends of the River will send marking kits to interested residents.

Traffic Calming

Anna Baer is a project coordinator with Fort Wayne’s Public Works traffic engineering division. She says the activities and projects of her department are bound by laws in a manual, but they are constantly working to think of ways to improve traffic in road ways around the city within those restraints.

Baer spoke at length about the city’s “traffic calming” program, which aims to increase safety on neighborhood streets. Some traffic calming measures include reducing speed limits, more or clearer road markings and implementing one-way streets and alleys.

There’s also the Community Led Traffic Calming Demonstration Program.

“These projects at this point are temporary, so what that allows us to do is to test some of those less-common options, those things that aren’t as standard in that manual," said Baer. "And then we collect comparison data.”

She cites a traffic circle at Lakeside Park and a curb bump-out as projects that started as temporary but eventually became fixtures following that data comparison.

Residents who want to participate are responsible for securing funds and labor for both implementation and maintenance, and costs may vary.

Baer’s division is also focused on other improvements in neighborhoods, such as more banner displays on streetlight poles, artistic traffic signal cabinets, pavement artwork and non-standard street name signs.

Neighborhood Data

Nathan Law is a planner for the city, and he revealed an upcoming community website with the working name “Data Fort Wayne.”

Since census data doesn't account for neighborhood specifics, Law wants the site to be a place where residents can learn more about the areas they live in, and the city would use that data to make changes or improvements.

He wants it to be a community-driven project.

"A chance for neighborhoods to try and tell the story about their area, whether it’s something they’re really proud of and want to be successful, or about who lives there. Just really getting the chance to have a platform to tell a story about your neighborhood," Law said.

Law cited Indianapolis as one city that has done something similar and used their site as an example, though he says he hopes Fort Wayne’s is “better.”

“Data Fort Wayne” is also not the permanent name of the project, and he says it could change if the community comes up with something different.

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