Thursday, March 15, 2007

Harrison Square "Straw Poll" at Northwest Area Partnership meeting

I went to the Northwest Area Partnership Meeting tonight.

This is a group that consists of many neighborhood association officers/ Quite a few City officials and candidates generally come to the meeting...

It was a VERY interesting meeting. Councilman Didier was present as was County Commissioner Nelson Peters. Several City Council candidates were present as well...

Part way through the meeting I gave a brief synopsis of the Fort Wayne Police "Chief's" meeting that I attended.

Then I did a brief and NON SCIENTIFIC poll of those present who LIVED in the Northwest Quadrant. For those of you that support the Harrison Square Project as is the results were not a good sign...

More people opposed building a new baseball stadium downtown then even I expected. And I expected a lot to oppose it...

In favor of Harrison Square and building a new downtown baseball stadium = 2
Against Harrison Square and building a new downtown baseball stadium = 30
Not voting or on the fence = 12

So here it is by percentage and rounded to the nearest percent:
Opposed 68%.
In favor 5%.
Not voting 27%.

Note one of the two people in favor of Harrison Square and building a downtown baseball stadium was Republican City Council Candidate Marty Bender... I was a bit surprised that he was in favor of the project.

This polling was done on a group of people who attended a meeting that is intended for Presidents and other officers of Fort Wayne neighborhood associations. The only people who voted were those who attended a regular meeting of the Northwest Area Partnership. This audience was NOT stacked like the "ra-ra" sessions yesterday.

Near the end of the meeting Councilman Didier did a very courageous thing. He actually spoke up and talked about how he had not decided how he would vote yet; however, he certainly convinced most of us that he is in favor of the project. Even with 30 people against and only 2 in favor of Harrison Square he defended the project. I have to say that I am becoming more and more impressed with Councilman Didier. It took a lot of courage to stand up and support a project that so many people are opposed to... He defended it for QUITE a long time and directed most of his comments at me. I reminded him during his "speech" that he was really talking to THIRTY of us and that only two were on his side...

I have no doubt that some of the more ardent Harrison Square supporters (Several come to mind) will immediately attack these results and will babble about how I am wrong.

Let me say once again, THE POLL WAS NOT SCIENTIFIC. In my mind it was quite telling.

Let me tell you a little about the demographics of those who participated in the poll. Once again, this is not a scientific observation of those who voted; however, it is my opinion:

1. I was most likely the youngest person who voted, I am 39. I would guess that most of those who voted are between 55 and 75 years old.

2. The people who voted regularly attend monthly meetings of the Northwest Area Partnership.

3. My GUESS would be that most of the people in the room regularly vote in elections. I base that observation on my belief that if people regular attend meeting like this that they would vote. This is just an opinion...

4. My GUESS would be that many of the people in the room are on a relatively fixed income and that many are retired. This is just an opinion...

5. Many of the people in the room do a fair amount of volunteer work in Fort Wayne.

In short, this is a group of people that City Council and the Mayor SHOULD want on their side and whose opinions they should highly value. I would argue that those who serve on their neighborhood associations are an important part of Fort Wayne (Karen Goldner is basing part of her Campaign on this...).

Many of those who support the Harrison Square project have spent their time attacking the newspaper poll that showed that 73% of Fort Wayne residents oppose building a new baseball stadium downtown...

Many in the media have been reporting or at least inferring that public opinion is shifting and that more and more people are in favor of the project.

I think not...

Once again, I know several Harrison Square supporters will attack this post. This was a NON SCIENTIFIC poll!

I still believe that a strong majority of Fort Wayne residents oppose building a new baseball stadium downtown...

What do you think?

Mike Sylvester

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mike, the fact that you think this poll is "telling" is ironically ly very "telling" about your political acumen.

Are you kidding me?

Sincerely, one of the "babbling" propents.

Sam

David Corcoran said...

Mike,

I don't think anyone can determine a real opinion on this until we get a poll of diverse people. You said it yourself that the demographic of that meeting was mostly retirees. Many of the attendees don't support anything - no matter what it is.

The demographic of Wednesdays two meetings were mostly people in their 20s and 30s who were overwhelmingly in support - 263 ballots counted and 80% supported and 14% did not. Totally different demographic. The median age of Fort Wayne is 32.4 - I don't think anyone can definitively predict a good and diverse poll on this.

I'd also like for Ft Wayne city leaders to stop listening to people that are against everything - human sandbags. We cannot make critical decisions based upon people that simply show up to these meetings to prevent progress. We (supporters) may not always win, but at least we are in the game ...

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Sam:

I am going to have to be honest with you; I may have VERY LITTLE political acumen...

I have to admit it.

Looking back on the last couple of years there are several things I wish I would have handled differently...

I am 100% NEW to politics and I do not have anyone to teach me in our local Libertarian Party. I have made mistakes...

I am far from perfect; I hope that I am learning...

Please enlighten me about why you think the poll is not "telling."

I am really, really, curious...

As a sitting City Councilman would you NOT be affected by 30 people opposing a project and only two supporting it?

Don't you feel that those citizens who are in charge of their neighborhood associations are an important constituency?

Mike Sylvester

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Dave:

The newspaper did a poll of diverse poeple. It turned out 73% were opposed to building a new baseball stadium...

Do you think the newspaper poll was inaccurate?

In my opinion I feel there is a strong majority of residents who oppose building a new baseball stadium downtown...

Mike Sylvester

David Corcoran said...

I think the Newspaper did an early poll - a new poll would likely achieve different results. It needs to encompass a diverse crowd though - keeping in mind the median age of Ft Wayne is 32.4

Scott Greider said...

Mike,

Though you didn't ask me, I think the infamous newspaper poll was completely inaccurate! Shockingly so.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Scott:

It was good having lunch with you today. You have a lot of excitement about Downtown and I think you are going to do great things.

Why do you think it was "Shockingly inaccurate"?

Mike Sylvester

Jeff Pruitt said...

I don't think it takes much political acumen to know that if you piss off your district's neighborhood associations you will most likely not win a city council election...

Anonymous said...

Mike,

Here is why I said what I said.

Neihborhood meetings are very valuable and insightful when you are on city council. If you want to get a good feeling for neighborhood issues, they are a must. However, a very very small percentage of citizens attend neighborhood meetings. If I surveyed Our friends from church, school, the kids athletic activities, work, I bet there would be 3 or less people who had EVER, in their life, been to a neighborhood meeting.

As an example, in 2003, a goofy man by the name of Jeff Layman decided to run for city council. He had spent 4 years running for the 3r district seat. He showed up to every neighborhood meeting and he even became Chairman of the Northwest Area Partnership. His showing in the election was one of the most dismal in the history of city council races. He got less than 10% of the vote in a 3 person primary.

So, the fact that 95% of the people at that meeting are against spending dollar one on this project, would be completely expected AND it is consistent with the vast generational gap on this issue.

Mike, I know our exchanges have been heated on this issue. However, I have learned a lot from the exchanges. I used a couple of your questions when I met with Hardball last week.

Sam T.

Charlotte A. Weybright said...

I agree on the issue of who is being polled on the Harrison Square. I imagine a pollster would get different results from almost any area he or she polled.

I also wonder why everyone is so focused on the stadium itself? Harrison Square contains a number of other projects as well as the stadium. I think it does a disservice to constantly refer only to the stadium because that seems to be a trigger for the negative comments.

I do realize it is the main component but Harrison Square will also have retail businesses and condos. The retail business aspect is an exciting one since very little in retail exists downtown anymore.

As to comments about neighborhood meetings, I am absolutely amazed by the lack of people who attend these meetings but then complain about decisions made by those who do attend. I am the secretary and a board member for the West Central Neighborhood Association, and we have maybe 20 at tops who attend our monthly meetings.

We make critical decisions about CEDIT Projects, neighborhood projects, abandoned houses, clean-up, etc. These are things that impact our neighborhood, yet no one seems to care (other than those who attend).

Anonymous said...

I am involved in the network of Neighborhood Associations. Northside... oldest and most active in the city... we hold 5 general meetings a year.. and generally get 50-60 at our meetings. I take offese to the comment about many attendees don't support anything - no matter what it is..... I also So we do have involved neighbors

Mike I attend the NEAP meetings and the Presidents meeting regularly.. The NEAP also took a poll with about 60 in attendance.. they had perhaps 8 that were in favor of the project....

If you think about it.. it is the older generation that have paid the taxes that went into this economic development dollars that are paying for this project.. and we have a right to be heard and not slammed... as sandbags..

Chad Gramling said...

We've seen many polls of current residents with varying results. Simply, they show the devisiveness among the age demographics who support and oppose the project. I would love to see some results of a poll that seek the opinions of business professionals and leaders who would consider moving (either themselves or their jobs) to the Fort Wayne area if the project were to occur. Also, I wonder how many people who live in the counties AROUND Allen County would make more, fewer or the same number of trips to Fort Wayne on an annual basis once/if Harrison Square is complete. Just some random (non-political) thoughts.

Kevin Knuth said...

Mike,

The thing is there is no such thing as a "non-scientific" poll.

A true poll is a wonderful thing- and give you a pretty good picture most of the time.

A poll is only as good as its question. If you were to ask the following two questions, you would get VERY different answers:

1. "Would you support redeveloping downtown if it included shops, restaurants, housing and a ballpark?"

2. "Do you think we should have a baseball stadium downtown?"

Really good pollsters can predict a political race within a small percentage- but the secret is in how they ask the questions.

David Corcoran said...

Anonymous,

I'm sorry you took offense at my comments. If you have viable reasons as well as a logical strategy to improve downtown Fort Wayne, then I respect that - I'm not calling you a sand bag. The sand bags are those that oppose the project and have no logical reason other than they don't like baseball (I'm not a baseball fan - I couldn't even tell you who won the World Series last year) and have no viable solution that holds the weight that Harrison Square holds for downtown improvement.

I have a philosophy in my company that if one of my employees has a complaint - they must justify it and they must provide a viable solution for the problem otherwise I have no interest in hearing it ....

Keep in mind the younger generation also has school, work, and children to attend to making it much harder for their voice to be heard.

Dave

Robert Enders said...

Sandbags saved this town 25 years ago....

Anonymous said...

Bob, you have now given us two classics:

"Sandbags saved this town 25 years ago" -- today's blog.

"Give me Liberty or Give me Cancer" -- public hearing on smoking ordinance.

Wow.

Sam T.

Chad Gramling said...

All due respect, it wasn't the sandbags that saved the town. It was the fine volunteers of the community who joined together to fill and move the sandbags into position. Everyone was in unison on what needed to be done and then they went out and did it - without the use of polls I might add.

Anonymous said...

Kevin-

Is that supposed to be your critigue of the one scientific poll, showing 71% oppose the basdeball stadium? Your change in questtions just hides the issue, to support the assertion "this is not about a stadium."

Question 1: Hartley's is considering changing it's menu to add a small side of lima beans, canned not fresh, for $7.95. Would you like this menu addition? After an overwhelmingly negative response, Kevin Knuth rushes to the defense of absurdly expensive lima beans, claiming the pertinent question should have been:

Hartley's is considering changing its menu to add a dinner special of 6 oz. lobster tail, 8 oz. filet, choice of soup, salad and dessert, and a small side of lima beans, canned not fresh, for $24.95- no substitutions. Would you like this menu addition?

In Kevin's world, the favorable response proves the poularity of canned lima beans.

The opposition to this project IS about the stadium.

Mark Garvin

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Sam:

You are 100% correct, there is a "generation gap" involved with this proposal.

I think it is fair to say that younger people tend to be more in favor of the project and that older poeple tend to be opposed to the project.

Charlotte:

I think that many of us feel that "it is about a baseball stadium." I know that I do...

Fort Wayne could have pursued MANY different options. For some reason the ONLY project they asked for proposals for was a Baseball Stadium...

There is no dount in my mind that they could have received MULTIPLE proposals for a mutli-use sports arena and hotel combination...

The catalyst for the project is moving a perfectly good baseball stadium from one part of town to another. The current baseball stadium is ALMOST paid for.

Fort Wayne will be spending at LEAST 300 - 600 million dollars to fix the CSO problem in the next few years.

Fort Wayne has a pension shortfall of ABOUT 244 million dollars.

Our property taxes are about to skyrocket... Add these projects to the potential FWCS bond and we have a property tax time bomb.

Of course this IS about a baseball stadium...

We are going to spend tax payer dollars to move a baseball stadium rather then fix issues that are looming on the horizon that WILL end up being paid for with property taxes...

Charlotte, what would be the number of poeple in your neighborhood association for and against the Harrison Square Project? Can you guess? Your neighborhood is closer to Downtown so I would think the project would be more popular...

Chad Gramling:

I think you bring up a great point...

I wonder if anyone ever conducted a detailed poll of Wizards fans?

I am SURE that Fort Wayne would be "showcasing" business owners in the recent public forums if there were any business leaders that were willing to move jobs to Fort Wayne to be near a new single A Baseball Stadium.

That leads me to believe that they have not been able to locate any.

Lets say that there was a company that employed 500 people in Chicago that contacted Fort Wayne and told our City that they would move to Fort Wayne if Harrison Square is approved.

I PROMISE YOU that our elected officials would make it front page news. They would hold press conferences etc...

Heck, that well might change my mind about the project depending on how many jobs that company would bring to Fort Wayne and what they would pay!

I do NOT believe that anyone will move to Fort Wayne if we build a new single A baseball stadium in Downtown Fort Wayne.

I just find that hard to believe.

All of that being said; I am in favor of Downtown development. In fact, this entire Harrison Square discussion has made me more in favor of Downtown development then I used to be.

I am now completely in favor of downtown development...

Downtown Development will require:

1. A project that will draw new people downtown (Not existing Wizards fans).

2. Streamlining zoning rules.

3. Limiting development along the edges of Fort Wayne; especially new strip malls and retail...

4. Educating both the public and elected officials on the difference between economic development and economic re-arrangement...

5. Locating as many government functions downtown as possible. This includes the Sheriff...

Mike Sylvester

Anonymous said...

Mike, statements like the one below

"There is no doubt in my mind that they could have received MULTIPLE proposals for a mutli-use sports arena and hotel combination..."


are just 100% incorrect. I guess its correct to the extent that there may be "no doubt in your mind". However, you have absolutely ZERO to support this assertion. The idea of a multi use water/ice complex has been floating since 1999 and NEVER has a private developer stepped forward to advance the idea. NEVER. This arguement is a complete red herring that is used by the anti Harrison Square crowd.

Sam

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Sam:

Unfortunately you missed the point. I will try again...

If we would have looked for a private developer for a hotel and multi-use sports facility and then sent out an RFP that offered the same level of subsidies as we are offering today; I feel that we would have received multiple proposals on the project.

That is my opinion and I think that is how a lot of people I talk to feel Sam...

Mike Sylvester

Anonymous said...

Mike,

No matter how many people you talked to on this issue. You are still wrong.

So repeat it as many times as you would like, but its just incorrect.

Sam

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Sam:

So can you please email a copy of the other RFP's the City sent out?

I would be happy to post a link to all of them on this blog so that Harrison Square skeptics can review them...

I would like to review them.

I think a lot of taxpayers would like to review them!

Mike Sylvester

Jeff Pruitt said...

So we're to believe that if the city sent out an RFP stating they would be willing to give away around $70Million in subsidies for downtown developement that the Hardball Capital group is THE ONLY response we would've gotten?

That sounds ridiculous to me. The reality seems to be that the Harrison Square vision came from developers and not the city leaders that have failed to redevelop the downtown area over the last decade. This would lead me to believe that we should've opened up the process to MORE developers and we might've gotten an even BETTER idea.

But alas, we're all told this is the one and only chance. If this goes down we're all screwed. The truth seems to be that this is the one and only chance for THIS ADMINISTRATION...

Anonymous said...

Sam,
A developer never materialized for a different project probably because the generous public funding offer for this project wasn't available in 1999.

Oh, you guys are yet to prove that this project will work. All we've seen are smoke and mirrors and evasiveness.

Kat Coble said...

Mike,

Your poll sample may have been a little homogenous both geographically and socioeconomically. Your polling question may have been too directed to a final response outcome.

Nevertheless, I can promise you that all of the Fort-ites I've talked to about the issue are adamantly opposed.

Some are in their late 60s. Some are in their late 20s. They are from vastly different economic strata as well.

Your average man on the Fort Wayne Street does not want this baseball park.


Does anyone here watch The Simpsons? Do any of you Simpsons watchers remember the Monorail episode? Because that is a perfect synopsis of what is currently happening in Fort Wayne with the Harrison Square proposal.

And as for those who like to say that the development is not solely the baseball field, allow me to ask you one thing.

Who is going to want to have a condo or a storefront next to a mostly-vacant property value drain? It's not Field Of Dreams. Just because you build it doesn't mean that they will come.

Andrew Kaduk said...

OMG Kat, this is definitely the Monoroail episode incarnate!

I had forgotten all about that!

Kat Coble said...

Andrew,
it most definitely is.

And what I cannot stress enough is that I currently live in North Haverbrook.

Andrew Kaduk said...

I just posted a 10 minute YouTube compilation from that episode on my blog so that others may join in on the fun.

Awesome call, Kat.

David Corcoran said...

OK, if the average man in Ft Wayne does not want a ballpark - what do they want ? And can you prove that your idea in downtown Ft Wayne would succeed ?

Is there anyone on here that does not agree that we must revitalize downtown ?

Opposers out there - give us a better idea and show us the entire model like you are asking for - prove to us that your idea will work. I want X does not work. I don't want Y does not work either. How about something with some real substance - I'm all ears......

Kat Coble said...

Which Average Ft. Waynian do you want to talk to? Because that city is anything but average. Part of the difficulty in city planning for the Fort is the disparate nature of its citizenry. I'm 36 years old, and for most of my life people have been talking about revitalising downtown. And they've had some great ideas--many for which I've had a nice front-row seat.

Over the years I've seen the following "city revitalisation plans", each met with varying success:

--reopening the Fort
--closing the Fort
--Opening the Art museum
--The Grand Wayne Centre
--The hotel next to the Grand Wayne Centre
--The Bus Mall
--Building One Summit Square
--Putting Big Santa on the Bank Building
--That new park with the ice-skating rink.
--The Mastadons
--The Civic Theatre
--The park next to the Civic Theatre
--The Botannical Gardens
--The Embassy
--The condos in old office spaces near the Grand Wayne Center by the Thirsty Camel.

(Why can't I remember the names of parks? I dunno.)

It's the cycle of life in Fort Wayne. Every few years someone who is good friends with somebody who designs or builds something decides that the city needs to revitalise Downtown and the thing their good friend designs or builds is just the ticket. So Fort Wayne, city of dreams (isn't that the slogan now?) decides that we can realise just one more little civic dream. So we build the thing that will take us one step closer to what we perceive will earn us the same kudos as the bigger cities like ChiTown and Indy.

Somehow it all gets subsumed back into the Fort Wayne character. What few people who are still in Fort Wayne fail to realise is that you have something the big cities desperately want.

A true sense of community. Of belonging. That's what ties Fort Wayne together in spite of itself. It's a town for families. All kinds of families.

And yes, the patter would have you believe that families want baseball with their apple pie. What they really want are good jobs.

I would desperately love to move back to Ft. Wayne in spite of the cold weather. But there aren't publishing houses and printers and authors' agents and licensing firms thick on the ground. Folks like me will not move back for baseball.

So if you want to reattract the expats, put some funding into true business development that will promote Fort Wayne as a good home for creative folk.

If you want to revitalise downtown, first realise that you are dealing with a town of families and a town with history and a town that loves to eat.

Get some more good restaurants down there. Get some indoor entertainment options. Look at something like the Alamo Drafthouse cinema chain.

Is it any coincidence that the biggest downtown revitalisation was hanging the Wolf & Dessaur Santa on the bank building? That's what brings people downtown. Fun things to do with the family all year. So put in a sportsplex with an indoor pool and tennis courts. Or even better, build an indoor water park. Those do very well in northern cities.

Either go big or don't go at all. This baseball field thing smacks of yet another Ft. Wayne revitalisation idea.

"We can build a half-assed version of what the bigger cities have, and it'll be good enough."

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Kat:

You make some great comments and I really think that you hit the nail on the head...

Kat there is no doubt in my mind that the majority of Fort Wayne residents oppose moving the Baseball Stadium...

Moving the existing baseball stadium makes sense to a minority of Fort Wayne residents in my opinion...

Dave Corcoran:

I am much more in favor of Downtown development after talking to people like you and Scott Grieder...

I am in favor of INTELLIGENT Downtown re-development...

I currently think the BEST project for Downtown Fort Wayne is a full service casino. It would draw people from as far away as 100 miles. The best thing about the casino is that the casino developer would build the hotel, the parking garage, AND the casino all without a significant public investment...

A casino would bring actual jobs to Fort Wayne unlike moving our existing baseball stadium... Moving the existing baseball stadium does not create a single job in Fort Wayne. NOT ONE...

I currently think the next best project is a multi-use sporting facility. I think it would have to be an indoor venue that would draw poeple year around. I think a combination that included an olympic swimming pool with ice would be a good combination...

I CANNOT prove that my second option would work; however, I think that the VAST MAJORITY of Fort Wayne residents THINK that the second option will work better then moving a Single A baseball Stadium...

We need to draw NEW people Downtown...

I also think that we MUST limit development at the edges of Fort Wayne, move the Sheriff Downtown, and start URBAN PLANNING.

With the exclusion of a casino; there is no silver bullet for Downtown. To re-develop Downtown Fort Wayne we need to do several things.

I have a question for you Dave!

In all of the public "ra-ra" events you have attended have you heard any of our elected officials discuss limiting development at the edges of Fort Wayne?

Mike Sylvester

Andrew Kaduk said...

That, Ms. Coble, is worthy of a standing ovation like no other comment I have read on this subject to date.

Bravo.

Katherine Coble said...

Well, thanks Mike and Andrew.

I've thought about this a lot, as I grew up in Fort Wayne politics.

Speaking of which, Mike, your casino idea is probably the best revenue-generating attraction possible.

However I don't see it playing in Ft. Wayne. It's not the most libertarian of places, and now with the flap over the strippers ::yawn:: trying to introduce any alternate idea that smacks of vice will fall flat.

Opponents will be nicely positioned to slam your proposal by juxtaposing it as a den of iniquity versus the apple-pie wholesomeness of baseball.

(A sport over which no one is ever tempted to gamble...)

Anonymous said...

After Reading Kat's condescending "bash fort wayne posts" and Sylvester' casino posts, I am at a lost for words. I have nothing more I can say. I need to stop visiting this blog before I lose my mind.

Sam T.

Andrew Kaduk said...

Cheap shots about Mike's political acumen are perfectly acceptable components to the discourse...but for some reason it's taboo to point out that Fort Wayne isn't necessarily a cultural or socioeconomic mecca?

I'm afraid I'm going to have to call bullshit on that one.

As a FW expat, Kat is in a unique position to offer some insight...and Sam, of all people, you should realize that you cannot see the forest for the trees.

I'm still waiting for ANYONE to explain to me how this "ball park" can function as a catalyst when virtually nobody goes to games. Don't get me wrong, I think the stadium and the Wizards will flourish for a year or two after the construction is complete, but then quickly thereafter, they'll be in the same situation they're in now (poor attendance, indifferent public opinion).

Robert Enders said...

Mike,
If Fort Wayne forbids development along the outskirts of town, then developers will simply continue to build just outside of city limits. If the county prevents them from doing so, developers will build just outside the county line. Some people prefer to live in the country, some prefer to live in the city.

Since the FWPD is responsible for law enforcement within city limits, the sheriff's department should focus on its roll in enforcing the law in rural areas. Putting the department deep within city limits would mean longer reponse times whenever someone in some trailer park is beating their wife again.

I don't know about a casino. It is typically the older generations who play the games of chance, like the lottery and slot machines. Younger people tend to bet on sports, and they don't need a casino to do that.

Kat,
This town is very libertarian compared to most places in the country. Don't let the "City of Churches" label fool you. Here, people sin on Saturday, confess to their sins on Sunday, and brag about their sins on Monday. If strip clubs weren't frowned upon, they wouldn't be so much fun.

Sure there are no publishers around here. That is why I mail my manuscripts to publishers. You seem like an aspiring writer, but you should realize that distance from you publisher doesn't matter as much as distance from your subject matter does. Good luck on that novel about FW, I look forward to reading it.

Sam T.
Mike is not responsible for Kat's posts. Mike and I are both recent college graduates who decided to buck the trend and stay. We like it here. Try taking a break and come back when you feel better.

Katherine Coble said...

Sam (Assuming you're Sam Talarico)

You and I have met on several occasions, although I'm betting you don't remember it as I was going by my maiden name at the time. We disagreed back then as well.

I'm so sorry you think of my comments as bashing Fort Wayne. They are anything but. I love Ft. Wayne dearly. I have VERY close ties to the community to this day.

I'm just trying to point out that the Fort Wayne I love is often handicapped by outsized and misconstrued plans.

RE--
Thanks for visiting JAPF. I've been a freelance writer for years now, but I've also been a licensing and contracts manager in art publishing, which did require my in-office presence. Hence the concern about distance.

Kat Coble said...

Oh gosh.

My bad, Sam. It's your DAD I've had multiple disagreements with.

You I've never met.

Sorry.

Doug H. Sec, Lib Pty AC said...

To All,

David asked several really good questions. I am glad to see that some questions are being asked regarding Ft. Wayne.

I would like to think outside of the box for a minute here. Let us NOT assume that we can BRING anything into downtown to save it, but rather to create an environment that WOULD attract unique businesses to the downtown. This would in turn bring JOBS and money.

Back in 2004 I backpacked around Europe for 40 days. I traveled briefly through 8 different countries. One of the things I thought was REALLY neat was the fact that many cities allowed NO traffic in certain sections of the city. These areas seemed to allow limited delivery trucks an minor use of personal cars, but after that people walked. There were a LARGE number of unique shops all over the place. Each shop would cater to different tastes and allow for a tremendous shopping bonanza for anyone who wanted something unique or crafted.

I throw this idea into the pool of ideas that have already been offered. I would propose making a section of Ft Wayne off limits to traffic and invite in special shops. I would also ease regulations to have sidewalk cafe's and food served.

Imagine a downtown with a little chocolate shop next to a cheese shop next to a gellato shop next to a fine watch shop next to a ...

The list could go on and on.

The negative impact of this would be that a massive restructuring of current traffic patterns would need to be addressed. When I was in Europe this did not cause a parking problem. People were used to either walking downtown or taking public transport. People would simply have to shift mental gears for here and problems would be minimized.

As far as I know this hasn't been done anywhere else in the United States. Thus, we would not be following an example we would be leading in a new direction. Even if it is done elsewhere in the US it isn't done in the Midwest.

Just a radical thought out of the box from a radical Libertarian.

Respectfully,

Doug Horner

Andrew Kaduk said...

Doug,

It has been done in the US, and successfully, I might add. Albuquerque, New Mexico, has a chunk of its downtown dedicated to foot-traffic only. It's called Old Town Albuquerque, and it is really cool. Resaurants, pubs, many shops...including art, pottery, leatherworking, jewelery is big, and the sidewalks are all canopied clear to the street (which is used as a walkway unless the occasional car w/ disability-indicating license plates slowly makes its way to the wheelchair accessible sidewalk accesses. The sidewalks being covered and large are key...because sidewalk vendors are welcome and encouraged to setup shop. A map of Old Town Albuquerque can be found here:

http://www.albuquerqueoldtown.com/map.htm

You'll notice that there are large parking lots and gardens surrounding Old Town, so it really does make for a great place to blow a day if you're out there.

I like it. You may have something! I wouldn't even be surprised if such an area would work well in conjunction with a ball park, so that way everyone who is already pot-committed to the Pink Elephant can have their way too. Obviously, the funding for the park is still at issue...but at least surrounding it with unique commerce might eventually offset any negative budgetary impact that may be realized. The more unique businesses that are created under the TIF, the better the chances of success overall.

Kat Coble said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kat Coble said...

Doug,

I thought that was the purpose of the bus mall in Fort Wayne years ago.

(I'm sorry, I guess that reads as snide. I don't mean to be.)

I was maybe 11 or 12 when they did the "bus mall" but from what I understood it was supposed to be a section exactly like that. Closed to all but foot traffic and bus traffic I thought it was meant to both encourage use of mass transit and offer an attractive shopping experience in the downtown area that would spur regentrification efforts.

And here in Nashville we have had mixed success. Our foot-traffic-only Printer's Alley is legendary for the wine/women/song atmosphere.

However, we did try closing a portion of 2nd Avenue along the Riverfront in order to recreate that type of Eurotourist vibe. That experiment failed miserably, with several of the bars and restaurants going out of business. Only after they reopened that portion of the street to auto traffic has it experienced any type of revitalisation.

So I guess urban foot malls can do well in the right context, but it may be like juggling eggs.

Robert Enders said...

Cars are not allow on Mackinac Island in Michigan. Jefferson Pointe is about the size of a city block and it has a lot of foot traffic. But usually the "no cars" concept works better in warmer climates.

Here is an idea I had last night. Remember the mural on the retaining wall in front of Science Central? It was a work of art for a while, then it was insisted that it was a distraction. So they painted over it, and it bacame an eyesore. So they tore it down. It was also said that the painted mastadons were a distraction as well, so we don't have them anymore.

The problem is that Fort Wayne has been such a flat, gray, boring place for so long that whenever someone puts something colorful up, it's distracting to drivers.

So let's start having murals, sculptures, and other public works of art. They don't have to cost any tax money if we can get sponsors. Beer causes more accidents than any plaster elephant ever did, but no one proposes making this a dry county. Attractive female joggers are way more distracting than any mural, but nobody is going to send the Vice and Virtue squad after them. Any idiot who has an accident because of a painting should be forced to take the bus.

Andrew Kaduk said...

Ok, the more I think about the "no cars" concept, the more I have this vision popping into my head....

It's Christmas time...and people are out shopping. There's a Meijer store...lots of people...

There are literally hundreds of open parking spots, but instead of using them, people are driving around in circles trying to find one...if only 10 feet....closer to the building.

I usually grab the first spot I see, and I inevitably end up walking right by lines of cars (still driving in circles looking for that "close spot") that have been there half again as long as I.

Yeah, people around here won't walk.

What the hell was I thinking?

David Corcoran said...

Kat,

I lived in Austin for 5 years and I talked to the owners of the DraftHouse about a franchise in the Midwest while I was looking to move back. At the time, Houston was as far as they wanted to go.

Here is where I am going to make a bold statement.

NO SINGLE PROJECT THAT YOU PUT IN DOWNTOWN FORT WAYNE WILL MAKE PEOPLE MOVE HERE.

Stop with the people won't move here arguments about the baseball stadium - it is an irrelevant argument. Also, it doesn't matter if we draw people outside of Fort Wayne. The object of this game is to draw people (anyone) downtown so that other businesses like the restaurants and shops now have an audience to sell to. You must draw people downtown - It doesn't matter where they come from. This is about creating a community of establishments as a result of drawing people downtown. If the ballpark gets built and no other businesses start - it was a total failure.

The ballpark is not going to make people move here. The ballpark is not going to draw people from Muncie or Valparaiso. That is not the point. The point is to bring people downtown so that other businesses can start. OK, so we move that population from Coliseum Blvd to downtown (economic rearrangement). Fine, we think there is more opportunity for growth there.

An indoor arena would only surive if they shut down the Coliseum. An Aquarium is not likely to sell season tickets Casinos develop so their patrons won't leave - this won't create a community or atmosphere of variant entertainment downtown. It will create one that people go to and then leave. Everytime I go to Michigan City, I stay until 2 am and then leave - that casino created nothing for that community other than a casino.

I spoke to a former executive of Ft Wayne National Bank yesterday who said he was opposed to the project until recently. He especially liked the idea of drawing concerts (from the soon to be shut down Verizon Amphitheatre). I attend to agree.

Andrew Kaduk said...

So David, based on your entire statement, Mr. Sylvester has been right all along about the fact that this is just rearranging what we have instead of creating new things.

Somebody's using EBIDTA at the expense of the taxpayers here...

Katherine Coble said...

Stop with the people won't move here arguments about the baseball stadium - it is an irrelevant argument.

Okay.

I was just answering initial statements I'd seen primarily at Downtown Fort Wayne Baseball where a person called 'Ed' and another person called Sam T. seem to think that this is indeed a good argument for the stadium.

The object of this game is to draw people (anyone) downtown so that other businesses like the restaurants and shops now have an audience to sell to.

I guess this is part of the problem with the pro-park side, because it seems that there is not a consensus as to what THEY expect to see other than 'a baseball field downtown'.

The pro-park side seems to change depending on the objection to the park.

OK, so we move that population from Coliseum Blvd to downtown (economic rearrangement). Fine, we think there is more opportunity for growth there

You think? Is there data to support this or is it going to be a very expensive hunch?

An indoor arena would only surive if they shut down the Coliseum.

Perhaps yes perhaps no. It might double the number of concerts and events booked in the city.

An Aquarium is not likely to sell season tickets

They do in Chattanooga. Well, it's a membership, so that's not the same gate rate, I guess. So you may be correct here. But I don't know if that is a valid comparison, given the fact that the largest attendence draws for most minor league teams are either ticket or swag giveaways.


Casinos develop so their patrons won't leave - this won't create a community or atmosphere of variant entertainment downtown.

Now on this we do agree. Casinos are designed to be a self-contained money-seperation apparatus like airports or Disney World. However if you look at Disney World the surrounding areas have been able to build a thriving, albeit parasitic, economy.

I spoke to a former executive of Ft Wayne National Bank yesterday who said he was opposed to the project until recently.

And how much money does his bank--in which he likely still owns shares even though he is no longer employed there-- stand to make on development loans should the project go through? Cui Bono?

I'm afraid I have a much harder time accepting "pro" arguments from people who stand to profit directly from the proposal. Asking taxpayers to spend their money to enrich the downtown baseball proponents doesn't really sweeten the pot for me at al.

Kat Coble said...

He especially liked the idea of drawing concerts (from the soon to be shut down Verizon Amphitheatre). I attend to agree.



Forgot to add that this sounds nice here in print but what about all those folks in the expensive adjacent proposed condos? I imagine they'll throw a fit when Pink Floyd keeps them up late at night. And I also imagine it'll do their property values no favours.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Dave Corcoran:

I 100% agree with you that no one project will make people move back here... That is true...

I am still amazed that SOME of the people who support Harrison Square are actually telling people that Harrison Square will cause people to move to Fort Wayne...

That is why several people keep bringing it up Dave. We are trying to "debunk" this myth...

Your next point is one you should reconsider in my opinion.

You do not go to Wizards games today and I do go to Wizards games.

My wife, both kids, and myself go to one or two wizards games per year. We have been going to see the Wizards play for about 6 years.

Let me describe the exact process that occurs when my family goes to a Wizards game:

We get in our car and drive to Memorial Stadium.

We get out of the car and walk into the ballpark.

We sit down and watch a baseball game. During the game we go and buy some food at the park and eat it while watching the ball game.

When the game is over we get in out car and drive home.

We make NO stops unless the car is low on gas and we eat in the ballpark...

How on Earth is this going to develop Downtown Fort Wayne?

I do not think it well help anything except cause the taxpayers to spend a bunch on money on moving a baseball stadium...

Mike Sylvester

Andrew Kaduk said...

Re: Kat's link...


I wanna know what kind of prude complains about a free Rolling Stones concert piped into their home. How ludicrous.

Now, that being said, I'm sure it will happen in Fort Wayne as well. Ask the folks at Legend's. They have complaints called in every time they host a band.

brian said...

"I do not think it well help anything except cause the taxpayers to spend a bunch on money on moving a baseball stadium...

Mike Sylvester"

How would the taxpayers spend a bunch of money Mike? From what I've read on the project, this comment doesn't make much sense. Can you explain this? Thanks.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Brian:

Sure partner.

I do not know what the financing package is yet since the details have not yet been released; however, I think it is fair to say that ABOUT 70 - 75 million dollars will be spent by the taxpayers in one form or another for Phase 1 of the Harrison Square Project.

Heck we have ALREADY spent well over ten million dollars just to acquire the land...

Then we will pay demolition costs, etc...

The money does not grow on trees.

It comes from the taxpayers...

Mike Sylvester

brian said...

Wouldn't you agree that the land and demolition costs would be used for the other downtown development ideas that you have proposed such as a waterpark, casino, or aquarium?

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Brian:

Maybe and maybe not, it depends on the project.

The City has obtained a lot of land... The City will incur a lot of demolition costs...

Some of the projects I listed would take up less space...

A casino is a fairly small operation...

Mike Sylvester