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Riverfront Development: Floodplain Manager advises the Latter

The City of Fort Wayne looks to develop riverfront properties.
 The City is moving forward with a half million dollar survey to see if developing along Fort Wayne’s riverfront is a good idea. Not everyone agrees with the possibility because of floods that have caused millions of dollars of damage in past years.

Fort Wayne is known for it's three rivers, the St. Joseph, St. Mary's and the Maumee. It's those rivers, that for years have flooded, causing millions of dollars in damages to local businesses and homes. FEMA and the City of Fort Wayne upgraded several dikes, purchased and then removed homes which were located in flood zones. Some city officials want to develop certain areas that lie near the flood zone and around the rivers.

It's known to many as the great flood of 82. More than 9,000 people were forced out of their homes with 2,000 of them destroyed.

"It closed us down you know water was in the building so we couldn’t operate and we lost a lot of business," said Dick Fox who owns Fox and Fox, an automotive company. His business survived the flood of 82 but many others weren’t as fortunate. He has since placed a marker outside noting the highest water level.

Fort Wayne’s riverfront development team led by an outside consulting group SWA made the first of many steps to decide if creating businesses and entertainment venues along Fort Wayne’s rivers are a feasible idea.

"There are reasons why he haven’t really planned along the river. There are so many different issues and topics that really have to be studied very carefully," said Pam Holocher, city leader of the team.

"They are our history and if you look back in the history books that's all that the books really talk about are our rivers so we really have to focus on them."

Rodney Renkenberger with the Maumee River Basin Commission disagrees..

"If development does occur and there is a disaster, it's going to be extremely if not impossible to obtain any federal funding because of the federal dollars that have been used to try to open the flood plain back up," said Renkenberger.

He suggests that if the project moves forward, city leaders should to act responsibly.

"FEMA their goal is to mitigate the flood damages in a community and the last thing they want to see is a community that's mitigated here and then they turn around and start developing," he said.

 

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