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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Quad Cities View: Why Swap Rock Island for Fort Wayne

In an article headlined "Carmody Leaves for Browner Pastures" the Quad-Cities Times gives its take on Rock Island Economic Growth head Dan Carmody leaving to take over the Downtown Development District (DID) in Fort Wayne. The article is very positive on Mr. Carmody but is puzzled by the choice of Fort Wayne.

Pardon our surprise when Dan Carmody announced he'll leave the Quad-Cities to oversee downtown development in Indiana's No. 2 city.

No disrespect intended. Fort Wayne is us: About 220,000 people clustered around a river in a midwest industrial town that was stiffed in the 1980s by International Harvester.

So why swap rust-belt towns?

“I do like these second-tier, mid-sized industrial towns trying to figure out what they want to be,” said Carmody

You can read the rest of the story in the Quad-Cities Times here.

I like the idea of someone recruited from the Quad-Cities. It's part of my family heritage so I'm familiar with it. But more important is the fact that the demographics are very similar. I've been impressed with the sense of renewal exhibited there. I also suspect that Mr. Carmody, coming from a place similar in size to Fort Wayne but which has multiple municipal entities having to work across two states, will be able to assure folks here that consolidated government is not the only avenue toward renewal.

And the other thought is that his experience as a brewer, and having worked the other side of a bar, will hold him in good stead here.

I wish him well.

I am beginning to wonder if there is a future of Indiana. No disrespect.
Of course there is a FUTURE, because absent some cataclysmic natural event, Indiana as a physical place isn't going to disappear soon. The question that Anonymous surely means is, "is there a GOOD future" and the answer to that is up to all of us, isn't it?
There was another important point tucked away in the end of the article:

“It is easier to develop on cornfields, like they’re doing in Coal Valley and Bettendorf. But smart growth means taking care of existing building stock.”

“That is a real important part of smart growth, to take advantage of the investment that has already been made in the older parts of the cities.”

I'm not sure that smart growth is something that is widely understood or utilized in Allen County. It would involve medium- to high-density development, and elsewhere has involved mandated infill development around existing transportation facilities. It would be interesting to find out more about Carmody's specific ideas on bringing smart growth principles to Fort Wayne, especially given that it would involve restricting suburban development as much as fostering urban renewal. I just don't see that being a likely outcome given the current development climate.
The public input into the Plan-It Allen comprehensive planning has been strongly in favor of smart growth (as defined by Alan). But I haven't heard anything lately about Plan-It Allen and I am concerned that it is going to be watered down by Allen County so that they can continue business as usual....turning at least one field or stand of trees per week into a new subdivision.
Agreed with that last comment. Why take the trouble to work with existing stock when it's so much easier to grade a corn field and knock down a few trees? We love vinyl boxes, yes we do.
Well, if the crime weren't so bad in the city, people might stay.
If the sidewalks were kept in repair in the city, people might stay.
If the ----- I could go on and on.
Taking care of what you have doesn't occur in Fort Wayne.
You make it sound as if the county officials have compelled people to leave the city.
Isn't a lot of what is termed smart growth about as effective as rent control? You get less of what you want at a much higher cost.
If by smart growth, you mean having developers pay the real cost of the new development (new roads, etc.) then I would hear you out. But when city officials are busy handing over goodies and tax breaks to the well-connected instead of taking care of existing neighborhoods - well, I don't have much sympathy.
Indianapolis has been busy giving away all sorts of tax breaks for the wealthy - and now cries that it can't afford police protection. Let's not have Indy envy.
I would have to agree with most of what has been said here.

I have attended several Plan-it-Allen meetings and I am not real impressed.

The Plan-it-Allen people do say the right things. The local government (Both Democrats and Republicans) do NOT have a long term development plan for Fort Wayne.

The Developers are the ones who determine where the new developments go; it has nothing to do with a central plan.

The only real central plan Fort Wayne has is a comprehensive plan on how to annex the new developments that are placed in WHATEVER fashion the developers want.
Sometimes it looks like once moved to the former cornfield in the form of a housing addition, no one wants the sprawl to catch up.
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