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About the writer
William Wendling, whose letter appeared March 26, has been selected as last month’s Golden Pen Award winner. In the judgment of the editors, he had the most effective letter to the editor during March.
Wendling, 62, is retired after working for many years at the GM Truck Assembly Plant. The longtime Fort Wayne resident enjoys gardening and planting trees. He also recently began taking classes to become an Indiana master naturalist.
He wrote his letter because he wanted to ensure that a tree of historical value was not lost to downtown revitalization efforts. He said seeing more people downtown is a good thing, but city leaders also need to make sure that green space is protected.
“To let only developers benefit when that land was purchased with tax dollars doesn’t seem right,” Wendling said. “I think taxpayers should have a little piece of that as well.”
He thinks it’s especially important to protect existing trees considering the challenge the city is facing with the large number of trees it is loosing because of the emerald ash borer.
Wendling received a gold-plated inscribed pen for his efforts. The Golden Pen Award was established to express our appreciation for the contributions our letter writers make to the editorial page.
Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Golden Pen winner William Wendling stands under the magnolia that was the subject of his letter.

Golden Pen – March

Downtown magnolia worth saving

The city of Fort Wayne will soon have completed its purchase of the properties on the west side of Ewing Street across the street from Parkview Field. The plan is to make the property available for private residential development. Bringing more residents in will certainly add to the already-increasing vitality of our downtown.

Among the many considerations for such a project is the inclusion of green space, and I believe there is a unique opportunity for such space that already exists on this site.

Directly behind the auto repair shop that is now on the corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Ewing Street stands one of the oldest and largest magnolia trees in Fort Wayne. This hybrid variety of magnolia (magnolia x solangeana) has an interesting history that goes back to France during the time of Napoleon Bonaparte. It is also known for its ability to withstand harsh urban conditions and is in the same family as our state tree, the tulip poplar.

I believe that constructing a small public square and using this tree as its centerpiece would provide urban green space, buffer the proposed residential development from Jefferson Boulevard and maintain an open intersection that would enhance the view of Parkview Field and The Harrison.

Keeping in mind that Fort Wayne has received the “Tree City USA” award for 22 consecutive years in recognition of its management of its urban forest, and also recalling the severe losses to the city’s tree canopy from the ash borer and the wind storm of 2012, it would not make sense to disregard a chance to save such a beautiful tree.