FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - "Your rivers are beautiful." That's the message from a river development expert visiting Fort Wayne this week.
The 2nd annual Fort Wayne Rivers Summit launched Tuesday evening at the Grand Wayne Center in downtown Fort Wayne.
The long-term goal, turn riverbanks into shops, restaurants and urban living.
River Development Experts like Anne Coulter (no not the political one) believe the first thing community members need to do is dream big.
Coulter said marry dreams with long-term planning and Fort Wayne could set the standard for riverfront development in the Midwest.
Coulter said most cities would kill to have just one rive and Fort Wayne, aptly nicknamed the Summit City, has three rivers.
"Most river cities see a hotel boom because it invites tourism, people want to stay downtown close to the rivers," said Riverfront Development Expert Ann Coulter.
Coulter works Kennedy, Coulter, Rushing & Watson, which is a strategic planning firm in in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Coulter's resume touts her leading role in a $120 million dollar waterfront development plan in Chattanooga that was completed in 2005.
Coulter toured the St. Joe, St. Mary's and Maumee by boat Tuesday afternoon.
She said each river has its own personality.
She noted the peaceful setting and beautiful wildlife.
But she also noted, the three rivers are disconnected from downtown.
"So a mix of residential, retail, restaurants are wonderful on riverfronts. But first and foremost, getting the public to the water in high quality places where they can interact with it and enjoy it and celebrate it," Coulter explained.
In the past, critics have questioned whether Fort Wayne's smaller and in some places shallow rivers are viable for major development.
Coulter's response, smaller rivers are a good thing because the current is not as powerful.
She said that makes them easier to access and easier to cross.
Meanwhile, Friends of the Rivers Co-Founder Dan Wired has three tips for residents on what they can do to help keep our rivers clean so they remain viable for development.
1. Pick up after your pets
2. Don't pour waste down your storm drains.
3. Don't over fertilize your lawn.
The 2011 Rivers Summit will continue Wednesday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Grand Wayne Center.
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