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Plan would give steam locomotive home downtown

By January 6, 2013 January 31st, 2015 Headwaters Junction, News, Press Coverage

As reported in the Journal Gazette:

Headwaters Junction, [is] an educational and entertainment venue that would provide a link to local attractions like the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, isn’t new. It was first proposed the idea more than two years ago, before the historic Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad freight depot on Clinton Street was demolished, but hasn’t been able to gather enough monetary support for the plan.

What’s changed is the opportunity for funding through the Legacy Fund, money the city made on the lease and sale of its old electric utility City Power & Light.

About $47 million will be immediately available while an additional $28 million will trickle in over the next 12 years.

The proposal carries a price tag of about $20.5 million, based on estimates from other cities that have tackled similar endeavors. He said if completed in its entirety as it’s proposed, Headwaters Junction would require funding from various sources, but the Legacy Fund provided the vehicle for the idea to take off.

A nod from the task force determining how the funds should be spent could provide a boost to the plan in convincing the mayor, his administration and the community that Headwaters Junction is a viable option for the north river property near the St. Marys River just north of downtown.

Headwaters Junction is mentioned in the Legacy Task Force’s riverfront development master plan and implementation, one of four spending categories for the fund. Nine projects were proposed and approved by City Council last month, including a feasibility study to examine riverfront development.

Task force members wrote that incorporating Headwaters Junction into a mixed-use development “should not be overlooked. The consulting firm (performing a feasibility study) should give Headwaters Junction its due diligence when developing a vision for our riverfront and North River.”

John Urbahns, community development director, said the team determined that the plan for Headwaters Junction provided a unique opportunity and should be given more consideration. The $500,000 riverfront study will investigate the best use for property around the city’s rivers, including the north river property.

At the heart of the plan is to return Berkshire steam locomotive No. 765 to downtown Fort Wayne where it had been on display as a monument to the 1955 Elevate the Nickel Plate project that opened a two-track overpass above city streets. Because of deterioration to the steam locomotive, the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society removed the locomotive in 1974 and has since restored it.