About 17,000 visitors came to Fort Wayne’s new Promenade Park, the start of the city’s riverfront development, during the Aug. 9-11 grand opening celebrations, according to the city’s parks and recreation department.
The attendance number may go up as the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department reviews drone images taken during the celebrations of the park at 202 W. Superior St. by the parks and Fort Wayne Police departments. Security was visible during the celebration, with police officers on bicycles and foot.
The chain-link fence with banners that hid views of the park should be coming down with normal operation of the park 6 a.m.-11 p.m. daily.
“There will still be some barriers around the city-owned gravel lot on the east side of Harrison Street but that should not impede citizens’ access to the park,” according to Rob Hines, parks spokesman.
The original $17.1 million price tag for the park may change too as finishing touches are still being done, according to Hines.
“We are currently gathering employee, volunteer and guest feedback, and will likely make some minor changes in the park as we evaluate how the public is using the space and how it reacts to everyday wear and tear,” he said.
Like other city parks, leashed pets are welcome, and several visitors brought their dogs to the opening celebrations. A bag dispenser for pet waste is available in the park. A yellow dispenser also contains sunscreen.
The celebrations started with Mayor Tom Henry welcoming the community aboard a floating stage in the St. Marys River. After a ribbon cutting, guests enjoyed music, improv and comedy performances at the Sweetwater Bandshell that overlooks the river on the south riverbank. The Fort Wayne Children’s Choir Youth Chorale and Maumee, Mary and Joseph Comedy were some of the scheduled acts before the ending Pyroscope Performance & Shindigz St. Marys River Lighting.
Trubble Riverside Cafe & Tap inside the Park Foundation Pavilion opened to serve Trubble Brewing beers on tap that could be enjoyed inside the cafe or out on the patio and bier garden. The cafe planned to offer grab-and-go food such as wraps, sandwiches, salads, soups and smoothies, keeping in mind children’s favorites and health-conscious eaters. Trubble joined several other food vendors outside.
Aug. 10’s Recreation Day program included dragon boat races, boat tours and kayak and lighted boat parades.
Aug. 11’s Nature Day activities included urban birdwatching, monarch butterfly releases and a native plant scavenger hunt with Northeast Chapter of Indiana Native Plant Society volunteers. Visitors also could take a free smooth blue aster plant from Riverview Native Nursery of Spencerville, partially provided by the parks department.
The park ‘s opening was pushed back from June 21-23 because the wet spring made it hard for construction crews to get work done on certain parks. One of those areas was the Parkview Tree Canopy Trail. The elevated trail runs from the Wells Street Bridge to near the Harrison Street Bridge. Another was the water-jet Rotary Fountain, made possible through $200,000 from Rotary Club of Fort Wayne.
Funding for the park came from Legacy funds — originating from an initial $75 million trust fund created from proceeds from the 35-year lease of City Light and Power utility infrastructure to Indiana Michigan Power as well as the proceeds from the sale of that infrastructure once the lease ended in 2010, as well as Indiana Regional Cities Initiative money from the northeast Indiana region’s $42 million focused on quality-of-place projects, along with private donations.
Among the amenities of the park:
• PNC Playground, accessible to children of all abilities on the north riverbank. Provided through a $250,000 grant from the PNC Foundation, Indiana-based Countryside Play Structures and Landscape Structures, known for designing playgrounds worldwide, “designed the area to energize sensory experiences with Rhapsody Outdoor Instruments and visually vibrant modular and climbing structures with Mobius Climbers and Global Motion,” according to a PNC statement.
On the south riverbank:
• Ambassador Enterprises Amphitheatre. The for-profit, philanthropic equity firm earned the naming rights through its $500,000 donation.
• Journal Gazette Foundation Dining Gardens
• Auer Lawn, accessible to all abilities
• Old National Bank Plaza
• Doermer Kids’ Canal with its large flat rocks provided a cool-down for children, dogs and the occasional adult.
• Little Creek Bioswale
• Betsy Chapman Family Gardens
• “Convergence” sculpture by Linda Howard
• Greenscape steps
Several aspects of the park have accessibility issues in mind. In addition to those mentioned, the park has gradual sloping paths, pavilion floor patterns that accommodate challenges associated with Parkinson’s disease, wheelchair seating at exterior tables, full-length mirrors in restrooms and priority parking along Wells Street.
The park is Phase I of Fort Wayne’s planned riverfront development. A planning group has been getting public input for Phase II and Phase III, which will include private development.