River Tours Inspire Ideas On Developing Riverfronts

By Rachel Martin

July 28, 2013 Updated Jul 28, 2013 at 7:05 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – A local organization is giving river tours to help brainstorm ideas on how to develop the riverfronts and make them more accessible to the community.

"If people can see the rivers, then they'll probably use the rivers, and if people use the rivers then they'll care about the rivers,” said Dan Wire, Executive Director of the Tri-State Watershed Alliance.

It's a whole new world down on Fort Wayne's three rivers.

"Once you can see the river from the river, instead of seeing the river from the shore, you have a totally new perspective on what's possible,” said Ray Kusisto, Co-Chair of the Regional Opportunities Council (ROC).

That's why the Vision 20/20 Regional Opportunities Council, or ROC, is conducting a series of river tours, called "Heart of the City." It's part of the City's riverfront development study and the Fort Wayne Legacy Fund.

"To actually put people on the water and experience the rivers of downtown Fort Wayne, so they can sense first hand what it was like. There isnt' anybody that comes off the river that's not smiling,” said Wire.

There are 8 mi. of undeveloped riverfronts throughout downtown Fort Wayne, with 2.5 mi. of it located right in the center of the city. Studies from five other U.S. cities have shown that developing the riverfront can be a catalyst for economic growth.

"That begins with talent, and one of the aspects of having talent is to retain them with quality of life,” said Kusisto.

With eight public parks and 12 bridges located along the rivers, ROC members say the possibilities of creating attractions are endless. But with no solid plans in the works yet, ROC says they're looking for something generational, ideas that could create a lasting legacy.

"An attraction where you could bring your family downtown and enjoy the river on a Sunday afternoon. An attraction where young people could come downtown on a Friday night and park once, and take advantage of all that downtown Fort Wayne has to offer,” said Kusisto.

"We need community input because this is for us,” explained Wire.

To share your thoughts and ideas on how to develop our riverfronts go to www.neindiana.com/vision/river-development




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