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Letter to the editor: Wayfinding signs idea not worth the money

Monday, November 18, 2013 - 8:39 am

Around Sept. 17 the mayor mentioned that he was going to use $300,000 of the Legacy (Old City Light) Fund to purchase what he called “Fort Wayne wayfinding signage” to direct people to different locations in Fort Wayne. Remember, we were not told these signs only had a name and an arrow. No address or how far to the location.

The day of the City Council meeting, the mayor just so happened to find a $100,000 savings. Now they would only be paying $200,000. This sounds like the old sweeper salesman trick. What do we citizens of Fort Wayne get for the special deal of $200,000? Well, we get 54 signs, approximately 4 feet by 8 feet, installed.

Let’s break this down at $300,000 that is $5,555.55 per sign. At $200,000 that is $3,703.70 per sign. The city saved us $1,851.85 per sign. Sounds good but doesn’t make sense as I will explain.

Here is another interesting point. Between Oct. 17 and 24 the administration found an overcharge of $100,000. However, the construction package that went to the administration was dated Sept. 3. If there was a real $100,000 savings before the 24th, the administration would have been on all the news media. If the administration hired a contractor that was off by a third, maybe we need a new administration.

Also, why are we citizens paying to advertise direction to a private business? Fourteen of these signs are to advertise Spiece Fieldhouse. When I was asked to manage one of the largest hotels in Fort Wayne for approximately one year, we had lots of organizations with several hundred members coming to Fort Wayne for competing in sports at Spiece. They never had a problem finding Spiece. These signs also include other private organizations. Why are the city monies being used to advertise for a private company?

I’m surprised the mayor had not gone for his city piggy bank and hired a consulting firm for $95,000, an amount he can spend without City Council approval, to tell us how great the sign idea is.

My grapevine told me before the vote on Oct. 1 this was a done deal and I could have told you who would get the contract. Well, they voted and it was six for and three against. It only takes six for votes to pass a deal. (There was a final vote on the project Oct. 22 with a 5-4 vote, which killed the issue, although council may still reconsider at a later date.)

If the city administration doesn’t want to put the original $300,000 they were taking from the Legacy Fund into a safe place and insists on spending it, then I am surprised that every council member who has a high crime rate in their district is not outraged over the sign idea. It makes about as much sense as spending $100,000 to move the general’s statute approximately 500 feet to another park because the mayor wanted it there.

Also, what about the citizens who live and rent in the older parts of town where the buildings are old? I would bet not one of you wants your children to get lead poisoning. Lead poisoning is happening in Fort Wayne.

This money could be used to put undercover police in the high-crime areas and remove lead from homes. I want to see our citizens alive and none of our children have irreversible brain damage from lead poisoning. It is estimated that more than 7,000 children in Allen County may be at risk for lead poisoning.

As citizens of Fort Wayne we need to speak out and contact our elected leaders and let them know our feelings. Call 311, and they can put you in contact with your council member or the mayor’s office.

I understand that there is some idea about building an arena downtown, which would directly affect the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Do we need a new government development doing the same as another and robbing income from the other?

I have lived in Fort Wayne and Allen County for nearly 50 years and have seen some dumb government ideas, and strongly believe that putting this money into wayfinding signs, which will not lower crime or protect our children from lead poisoning, is a dumb idea.

Bob Bastian