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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, September 03, 2017 1:00 am

Letters to the editor

'Building on a vision' includes green space

“Building on a vision” (as in Mac Parker's Aug. 13 essay) is about revitalization and urban development. This portion of the essay caught my eye:

“The Landing is the most historic street in Fort Wayne, dating back almost to the founding of the city. Canal boats loaded and unloaded there almost 180 years ago – and, for almost 75 years until 1900 – Columbia was really 'the main street' of Fort Wayne. Unfortunately, over the last 20 years, The Landing has fallen on hard times and many of the historic buildings – which go back more than 140 years – have been left to fall into substantial disrepair.

“At the same time, the Landing represents one of the best reminders of historic Fort Wayne architecture and design, with some buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”

Before the railroads superseded the canal, buildings along Columbia Street were warehouses receiving goods from the east. Along with Canal House, The Landing is a remnant of that time. It has lived through many changes. Surely, folks will be delighted this venerable street will receive much-needed life support and rehabilitation.

The proposal shows a mixed-use building to be erected on the Rosemarie Hotel site. Let us applaud efforts that include the city's oldest block of commercial buildings. Still, I can't but wonder whether the building as sketched is the best use for that location. The drawing illustrates an attractive and contemporary town house-like building block in a city (and district) not known for town houses. The balconies are baffling for a building on a narrow street. Most odd is the wee green space. As I looked at the drawing, that little opening became a reminder of what was there before and is no more.

I propose building on The Landing might honor the past differently. If it is an economic necessity for a new building, then by all means erect a building. But if a structure isn't crucial, consider alternatives for the Rosemarie Hotel site. The site can be more than it is by thinking outside the box about creative use of the space, even one without a large building, a space that can contribute alongside new buildings to re-invention of our Harrison Street urban core. We can honor Columbia Street's venerable “senior citizens” that have stood witness to our canal-era history and do so in ways that invite many people downtown regularly.

I believe heartily that our foremothers and forefathers would appreciate and applaud the city as it is now. But with growth comes change. Here's to the change that carries us forward while at the same time honoring our past in the best possible ways.

Bob Zahrt

Fort Wayne

Monuments must stay for sake of history

I think it is a terrible thing for a certain group of people to demand that statues be removed. Those monuments are to remind us about things that were about the war. The removal of those is a huge slap in the face of those who died on both sides of the conflict. I wish the president would somehow make it against the law to deface, damage or remove any of those statues or monuments, punishable by fines and even jail time. The governors of the states involved should be told to leave them alone and protect each one. If we allow this to continue, where will it stop? Will they go after George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, etc.? Someone needs to do something to stop this madness. It's history, let it be for our kids and grandkids to learn and see about those events.

Robert Hart

Fort Wayne

CHEERS to Chuck and Lisa Surack for their generous donation to the Fort Wayne Community Schools Music Department (“FWCS music gets $500,000 boost,” Aug. 24). Band and chorus were the most empowering and inspiring classes in all my elementary and secondary education.

Also, CHEERS to Janet Osterholt (”One way or another, we all pay for the uninsured,” July 31) for her intelligent, fact-filled letter regarding the Affordable Care Act.

Likewise, CHEERS to Beth Hauenstein, for her Aug. 17 letter (”With issues so big, Banks needs better public forums”). This reminder to our representative that all citizens need to be involved when he makes himself available for open, heartfelt, honest discussion is crucially important for dialogue with his constituents.

Joni Weber

Fort Wayne

Demolition shows short-sightedness

I recently woke up to a headline about yet another historic Fort Wayne building slated for the wrecking ball – the Jefferson Smurfit Building on Superior Street. Why is it being torn down? For riverfront development? To erect a replacement building? No – for a parking lot.

Downtown is littered with barren parking lots upon which used to stand glorious old hotels, terminals, warehouses, factories, residential mansions and retail space. All turned to dust at the hands of the wrecking ball, not for development, but to park a car. 

Superior Street is one of the very few streets left in Fort Wayne with any meaningful and consistent row of old buildings, this one an attractive brick structure. Like a gap-toothed prom king, I guess we're getting another hole in our mouth. Equally appalling is that we call it development.

Although the evidence suggests we've learned nothing, I would hope the likely development of the GE property gives us the wisdom of patience. Empty buildings have their drawbacks, for sure, but once they're gone, they're gone forever. Many had written off the campus as too big, too dirty, too run down and too expensive to be anything but wrecking ball rubble. Now it's on the verge of being the largest redevelopment project in Fort Wayne history. The 1000 block of Broadway (Canton Laundry, et. al.) is another successful example of patience, with each restored building now an occupied, tax-producing business.

We would have missed out on this true development if these relics had already succumbed to the swinging ball. Preserving these structures maintains an important connection to our past and roots, but also makes good economic sense. Beyond GE, consider all the money currently flowing into the historic West Central neighborhood. There is an affinity for these one-of-a-kind, craftsman-built homes, and that translates into economic development – currently measured in the millions.

Speaking of money, the city has identified $275,000 to demolish the Smurfit Building. Instead of using that taxpayer money to destroy another piece of our local history, let's use it to preserve and protect it. I'm sure that won't be easy, but few things of value are.

Joel R. Sauer

Fort Wayne

CHEERS to the kind and gracious residents of the Towne House Retirement Community and BHI for hosting a lovely luncheon at Towne House for all 28 teachers and staff from M.K. Holland Elementary on Aug. 14. They presented each teacher with an extremely generous gift card to United Art and Education for the teachers to purchase supplies and materials for students and classrooms. Their wonderful and supportive act of generosity will not be forgotten. It is so very appreciated by each of the teachers at M.K. Holland. On behalf of all the teachers, I want to sincerely thank everyone who donated.

Lori Sumner

Fort Wayne