Fort Wayne’s Greenways and Trails Manager Dawn Ritchie tried her hardest, but in the end couldn’t persuade the Legacy Task Force to part with $5 million for 6.1 miles of new trails.

The money would have been used to fund sections of four trails in the four quadrants of the city, but after discussion, the task force members voted to table the request.

Ritchie said currently the area has 124 miles of trails in greater Fort Wayne, and 93 miles in the city.

Apparently the pandemic encouraged people to get outside — she said trail usage increased 46% from 2019 to 2020.

With the Legacy funds the trails would be complete by 2023, Ritchie said. Without the funds, it will be another five to 10 years.

In addition Fort Wayne Trails will provided another $1 million.

Referencing requirements for Legacy projects, Ritchie said “trails are a legacy for our community.” She also said they were transformational, and read several testimonials from people who had been impacted by using the trails.

The department does get $1.2 million a year for its capital improvement plan, but Ritchie said at that rate it would take 9-10 years to get these four pieces done.

Task force member Paul Ensley said, “I love this project. (It’s a) good and worthy project deserving of funding.” However, he motioned to table the request for Legacy money. Member Sharon Tucker seconded, saying, “I don’t see it being transformational.”

Task force member Stephanie Crandall said she was going to move to approve up to $5 million for the trails project. “I think trails fit that legacy-worthy category,” she said. “It really does put us on the map.”

The vote was 9-3 for tabling the request. It could be brought back at the November meeting.

The Legacy Fund consists of money generated by the lease and sale of the city’s old power utility.

In 2011, Mayor Tom Henry appointed the Legacy Task Force to set priorities for use of Legacy funds and gather input from the community about how dollars should be spent.

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