Four east Allen County projects get $3.3 million from Capital Improvement Board

Woodburn's industrial park is one of the projects funded Wednesday by the Capital Improvement Board.. (File photo by Kevin Leininger of News-Sentinel.com)

It wasn’t the $4.25 million the New Allen Alliance requested last month and, in a sense, was even less than $2.5 million the group originally sought last year. Even so, the $3.3 million awarded to the Alliance Wednesday by the Fort Wayne-Allen County Capital Improvement Board will help fund four projects intended to boost the economy and quality of life in eastern Allen County.

The Alliance, which represents seven east Allen communities and a population of more than 56,000 people, in August asked the CIB for the $4.25 million as part of its campaign to fund more than $63 million in projects with the help of about $5.7 million in hoped-for funds from the state’s Stellar Communities program. But the board, which oversees county restaurant tax revenues, balked at that request, with some board members suggesting some of the “quality of life” projects were not consistent with the board’s mission. Some board members also expressed the desire to conserve funds with the Electric Works expected to seek $45 million from the CIB.

The four projects approved for up to $3.3 million Wednesday were more narrowly focused and included $1 million for a proposed industrial park in New Haven; $500,000 to improve Woodburn’s industrial park; $1.5 million for the Cedar Creek Parks Trail that will link the Hurshtown Reservoir to Metea Park; and $300,000 for improvements to the New Haven Community Center — $200,000 less than the Alliance initially sought Wednesday.

The CIB actually awarded just $2.3 million in new money, however, because the $1 million earmarked for the New Haven industrial park is the same $1 million the CIB set aside last year toward New Haven’s planned purchase of the 258-acre Casad Depot. But Mayor Terry McDonald balked at the federal government’s $2.3 million asking price and is now hoping to develop a new industrial park east of town.

As The News-Sentinel first reported last month, the Lomont family hopes to develop 175 acres near U.S. 30 and Doyle Road into an industrial park, with the city potentially supplying utilities and other improvements. The family has also agreed to allow New Haven to annex the property.

As CIB member Tim Pape noted, eastern Allen County is well-situated to attract industry, served by such major highways as I-469, U.S. 24, U.S. 30 and the Maplecrest Road extension. The problem, McDonald said, has been the lack of large industrial parks — a deficiency he hopes the CIB’s award will help correct.

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