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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Moving 'Mad' to prominent place, giving Engine 765 proper home would be transformative

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Thursday, February 14, 2013 12:01 am
It took a moment to sink in, but then I smiled. The leading newspaperwoman in Indiana, if not the land, was arguing that the Courthouse Green should be left alone as is. That, if Mad Anthony's statue were in the center of the CHG, she wrote, it would encourage gatherings. Huh? Gatherings? Redressing of grievances? The essence of the First Amendment? Newspaperwoman? Apparently, there should be freedom of speech for some, but not just for everyone; reserve those First Amendment rights for established newspapers, but not for individuals with goofy signs or large gatherings protesting government screw-ups. It would be just too messy letting the hoi polloi gather to exercise their rights, especially on her Courthouse Green.

Keep off the grass.

Then comes obstruction. Well, you can't move that statue; traffic will have to be stopped, the economy will crash, thousands will be tossed on the unemployment lines, revolution, famine, pestilence. That old “Fort Wayne Can't Do” attitude.

That is the spirit of the argument by the mother of the Courthouse Green, that 12-year old faux “historic” collection of paths and planters. Sheez. It belongs in Jefferson Pointe.

Their efforts at obfuscation are tactics in a fight with the mayor over whether to move the statue of Mad Anthony Wayne, currently hidden in the foliage in Freimann Square, to a much more prominent location in the dead center of the Courthouse Green, that quaint attempt to make Fort Wayne look like a village in Vermont, which we most certainly are not.

First, the CHG is a useless jumble. It is worth more to the mowing company than to the community. Sort of pretty it is, but not useful at all.

Instead, to showcase our glorious courthouse the “Green” should be open and paved, decorated with plaza cafes, planters, benches, ornamental 1900s lighting and smack in the middle the statue of Mad high on a plinth with surrounding steps where lovers, tourists and business people could meet, relax and admire. Sell Mad Anthony beer in the cafes.

Mad, our namesake should be dead center. Anyone who has been to Berlin, Paris, Istanbul, London, Edinburgh, Barcelona, Rome, D.C., New York or a hundred other great cities know that they put their heroic figures out where everyone can see, front and center, elevated and proud.

Given the “Green” is the center of Fort Wayne, that is the right place. I agree in full with Mayor Tom Henry on this one. And, if the statue needs to be repaired then repair it. That's no excuse as to where to place it. To sidetrack proper display of his statue is subterfuge, just a tactic to confuse and defeat an excellent idea.

And, while Mayor Henry is doing that he might also find space for Engine 765, another of our great monuments that just happens to have wheels and chug.

The massive steam engine should be an attraction to bring thousands to Fort Wayne each year, but it is all but unknown to the community. Put it on the North River property and bring those tourist dollars to town as we celebrate our transportation heritage.

Oh, and finish Headwaters Park, in the process. Hire Eric Kuhne instead of spending $500,000 on another time-wasting study and use that money to repair and move Mad.

Both projects qualify and deserve the use of Legacy Funds. Both are certainly more transformative than a roundabout at Ewing and Superior. A roundabout? Transformative? Is that what the mayor meant? Tom?

Moving Mad to the most prominent of spaces and giving 765 a proper home would be transformative. I hope that's what the mayor meant.


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