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Fort Wayne’s new Franklin School Park dedicated

Al Moll, at the podium, director of the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department, speaks during the dedication ceremony Wednesday for the new Franklin School Park, 1903 St. Marys Ave. The dedication took place in the park's new Dave Hefner Pavilion. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)
John Modezjewski, front, a member of the Franklin Park Group of neighborhood residents, looks at the commemorative plaque outside the Dave Hefner Pavilion at the new Franklin School Park, 1903 St. Marys Ave. City officials and neighborhood leaders and residents attended a dedication ceremony for the park Wednesday. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)
City officials and neighborhood residents dedicated the new Franklin School Park during a ceremony Wednesday in the pavilion in the park, 1903 St. Marys Ave. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)

The successful collaboration between the city and neighborhoods that culminated in construction of the new Franklin School Park makes the project a model for future city projects, Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department Director Al Moll said during the park’s dedication Wednesday.

City officials and neighborhood leaders and residents gathered in the park’s recently completed pavilion for the event. The park is located at 1903 St. Marys Ave., at the corner of St. Marys and Archer avenues.

The former Franklin School building, which dated to 1921, became vacant in 2012, prompting neighborhood leaders to begin meeting to press for a new use for the building and site.

Neighborhood residents proposed turning at least a portion of the school property into a park. City officials then expanded that idea to included demolishing the school and turning the entire block into a park.

The park includes sidewalks for walking, benches for sitting and a splash pad for summer fun.

A school maintenance building was remodeled into the pavilion, which includes an office for police to stop for a break and do to paperwork. The pavilion project wouldn’t have been possible without the William J. and Bonnie L. Hefner Foundation donating $300,000 toward the cost of remodeling the pavilion, which is named the Dave Hefner Pavilion in honor of the couple’s late son.

The park also includes a concrete patio area in front of the pavilion and a parking lot beside it.

In a nod to the site’s history and the memories of neighborhood residents who attended Franklin School, the parks department preserved the archways over school’s front and back doors as landscape features in the park.

The east half of the park, which includes the splash pad and preserved school archways, opened in late summer 2016. Work on the west half of the park began this past spring and was completed in late fall. Total project cost was about $1.8 million.

RENTING THE PAVILION

The Dave Hefner Pavilion in Franklin School Park will be available for year-round use and rental.

The Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department will accept pavilion rental requests starting Dec. 18 for rental dates beginning Jan. 1, 2018. Rental rates are not set yet, but are scheduled for approval Thursday during the monthly meeting of the parks department’s board of park commissioners.

To reserve the pavilion, visit the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department at 705 E. State Blvd. during normal business hours, or by going to www.fortwayneparks.org and, under “Online Services” in the navigation bar, click on the link for “Pavilion Reservations.”

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