Mayor Henry Touts Harrison Square, Light Lease Agreement In State of City Address

By Maureen Mespell
By Jeff Neumeyer

January 26, 2011 Updated Jan 26, 2011 at 6:41 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – "We can look to the future with optimism, because the city's financial foundation is strong."

That claim was made Wednesday by Fort Wayne’s Democratic Mayor Tom Henry in his 4th "State of the City" Address.

It’s still not clear what the future might hold for the mayor.

Henry had nothing to say about whether he will seek re-election in 2011, though he said afterwards, that he’d likely have an announcement in about a week.

The packed auditorium in the downtown library heard Henry tout the recent city light lease settlement with Indiana-Michigan Power that he says puts the community in a once-in-a lifetime position.

The agreement, if approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, would give Fort Wayne City Government access to $75-million.

Henry has said he wants community input on how that money should be used.

The mayor also told the crowd to watch for enhancements in the look of several dilapidated railroad overpasses, and he cheered progress towards a more vibrant downtown, citing Harrison Square as the catalyst we had hoped for.

The residential and retail portion, called The Harrison, has never gotten off the ground, but Henry suggested that's about to change.

Mayor Tom Henry/(D) Fort Wayne: " Much like the courage and tenacity that it took to realize the new hotel, today it is my good fortune to announce the financing package for The Harrison is nearly complete."

Tom Smith/(R) Fort Wayne Council, 1st District: " I did not see this speech as overly political. I thought it was a straight forward accounting, but it's his job that he has done and he has a right to talk about it."

We should find out if the residential project is indeed ready to advance at a Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission meeting on Thursday.

Henry said on Monday the city is back in negotiations with the Rifkin family about getting its hands on the OmniSource land just north of Headwaters Park for a possible large-scale development, but there were no prepared remarks on that subject in the “State of the City” Address.

You can click on the link if you want to read the full transcript of Henry’s speech.

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