Fort Wayne City Council has tabled approval of a $500,000 Legacy Fund award to Science Central for its planetarium project.
During the council’s committee session April 16, Martin Fisher, executive director of Science Central, addressed the council to highlight all of the past and future projects that have helped Science Central grow into a go-to destination not only in Fort Wayne, but in the region and even beyond.
While all of the council members voiced their support for Science Central and the awarding of $500,000 from the Legacy Fund for the construction of the Science central planetarium, there was a sticking point.
As council member Paul Ensley, R-1st District, pointed out, the Legacy Fund was currently not at the desired $30 million threshold and is hovering at about $24 million right now. With $10 million in Legacy Fund money still in limbo with the Electric Works project, Ensley felt it was not wise to commit funds to any more projects until an update on the mixed-use project at the former General Electric Broadway complex was given to council.
“Had we not already spent $10 million on Electric Works just last year I would be championing this project and moving it forward,” Ensley said. “There is some uncertainty around that project … Given some deadlines have already been missed this project could fall apart … until we know if this $10 million expenditure is going to come out, I don’t feel comfortable making a decision on this project.”
Ensley moved to table the discussion about Science Central’s funding request until this update from Electric Works was presented and evaluated by the council.
The motion eventually passed 7-2 with council members Glynn Hines, D-6th District, and Michael Barranda, R-at large, opposing.
John Gingrich, president and CEO of The League, was also present at the council committee session to give an update on the Fort Wayne-Allen County Disability Advisory Council. As a relatively new group, the advisory council has spent the last year laying the groundwork for future changes and upgrades to the city of Fort Wayne to make it more accessible for all abilities.
Such plans in the works include improving signs and sidewalks for blind pedestrians as well as addressing the omnipresent concerns about transportation access for people with disabilities whether that be public transportation or handicap parking spaces.
Additionally, according to Gingrich, the advisory council is working to develop a “Disability 101” training course that could provide businesses with information and resources to help them better serve customers or clients with disabilities.
“As somebody who has been in the disability field for a long time, the collaboration is so much better here,” Gingrich said. “This is a game changer in our community. This is people working together; this is the disability community and the city and county working together to make things better.”
Attorney Adam Henry, who was recently brought on to help with contract negotiations with the Fort Wayne firefighters’ union, informed the council that aside from a few items that needed ironing out, the contract was in good shape and should be ready for council approval in the coming weeks.
“I’m pretty optimistic,” Henry said. “I am very confident that we have this narrowed down to a few open items and that we are close to having a mutually beneficial contract for the city and for the membership of the union.”