Local Architect Inspires "Headwaters Park 2.0"

By Rachel Martin

January 30, 2013 Updated Oct 17, 2013 at 2:18 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incow.tv) – Renowned architect and Fort Wayne native Eric Kuhne returns to the Summit City to inspire ideas on how to develop the riverfronts.

"Headwaters Park 2.0” was the idea behind Eric Kuhne’s words at Tuesday night’s City Council special session. Kuhne had a hand in designing the original Headwaters Park, but now owns and operates his firm, Civic Arts, in London.

Kuhne was invited back home by council members to present suggestions and ideas to community leaders about how they can spend the riverfront portion of the Legacy Fund. Downtown and Riverfront Development is one of the four areas in which City Council will invest the Legacy Fund money.

Kuhn says he would like to see Headwaters Park expanded, since only 33 acres of the original planned 200 acres was developed. He says most of the land is set aside and already owned by the city, it’s just a matter of developing it.

“The original ideas are still there,” said Kuhne. “What they represent is how you join the neighborhoods together, open the rivers back to the citizens in the city, solve some of the flood plane dramas, and create a beautiful symbol that everyone in the city owns.”

Kuhne says many of the parks in Fort Wayne were engineered to obtain flooding, and that certain residential areas, like along Spy Run Ave., already lie in a flood plane. He says those properties might need to be relocated in order to accommodate the expansion.

He suggested opening up the riverfronts five times more, and creating eight new garden rooms throughout the ideal new park.

“The idea of garden rooms is you design places people can own while they’re there, as opposed to large sweeping bits of green, which basically you can only populate with one tenth of the people,” he said. “If you build places for festivals and anniversaries, and celebrations, and pageantries, and cotillions, and ice skating, and all that, it’ll be used far more than if it was treated as just a bunch of green open space.”

Kuhne says when Headwaters Park was originally built it was intended for approximately eight events a year. Now, Headwaters hosts over 40 events every year, which he says, creates more of a reason to attract more people to downtown living, and connect the seven surrounding neighborhoods into downtown.

“You don’t ask a lot out of a park. It doesn’t have to do gymnastics to provide a great amenity for the citizens of the city, but it does have to be accessible, it does have to be beautiful, it does have to be clean, and it does have to be safe. What Headwaters represents today are all those elements, we just want to expand it to more parts of the city,” he said.

The City already plans to spend $500,000 on a study advising how the riverfronts should be developed, however no concrete ideas have been publicly presented to the council.

“I think everybody likes the ideas, but somebody has to say, ‘go’. I mean, we’ve done all the planning, we’ve done all the engineering work. We know pretty much what we can and can’t do. This is now just taking city-owned land and converting it into a public amenity and linking it in with the same furniture and lighting and security measures that we have in Headwaters so it becomes a safe and convenient and comfortable place for people to go and spend their time.”

Kuhne says when the time comes, he would “love to be a part of it, but his job now is to inspire the future generation of designers and engineers into evolving Headwaters Park.

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