6 min read

Jan. 16, 2023 | Citizens organize for safe, inclusive streets

Jan. 16, 2023 | Citizens organize for safe, inclusive streets

Hey Locals,

Ryan again, sitting in for Kara and Mike on this frigid Tuesday. In this week's newsletter, we've got details on a local movement for Complete Streets (and why it matters). Plus: the county commissioners' response to last week's story, and a spotlight on Piebald Shark Books, the pedal-powered bookshop you may have seen around town.

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Let's get started!

Talk of the Week

The top story we're following.

Why citizens are organizing for a "Complete Streets" approach in Fort Wayne.

Complete Streets infrastructure in Montreal. (Photo courtesy of Maddie Miller)

What's happening?

On Sunday evening, nearly 20 people attended a meeting of Three Rivers Active Streets, a grassroots coalition of citizens interested in making Fort Wayne streets safer for everyone.

Among their priorities this year? Supporting an improved Complete Streets ordinance for the city, spearheaded by the Active Transportation Coalition (ATC). Here's what you need to know:

  • Complete Streets: refers to a framework or approach to planning, designing, and building infrastructure that works for everyone–not just drivers. "The idea is that a complete street is considering everyone who might be using that street," says Maddie Miller, a representative of the ATC. "Whether it's someone on foot as a pedestrian, someone biking, someone using a wheelchair, that these needs are met across the board."
  • Fort Wayne currently has a Complete Streets policy, but it's lacking in key areas. According to an assessment by Smart Growth America, the resolution, passed in 2016, falls short in 10 key areas, including a lack of specific project criteria, limited accountability and reporting processes, and the fact that it recommends, but does not require, a Complete Streets approach to new projects.
  • That's why the ATC wants a new policy ordinance to be passed, which would make Complete Streets a design requirement for the city. The group is also working with the Indiana AARP and the Fort Wayne Active Transportation Coalition. "The problem requires policy-level changes, because that's something that could address a lot of these issues that are happening across the community," Miller says. "We want to see this policy move forward as an ordinance, so it's something that has more strength through law."

Why it matters

This movement in Fort Wayne is part of a larger trend of communities rethinking street design.

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Small Talk

A few quick updates.

  • The county commissioners' office has responded: to our questions for last week's Talk of the Week (which concerned a taxpayer petition opposing the latest jail lease agreement). "Utilizing the building corporation and lease agreement method is the most fiscally responsible way for Allen County to construct such a large project," says Emily Almodovar, Public Information Officer for the commissioners' office. "Building corporations and lease arrangements are widely used in Allen County and throughout the state to construct schools and government buildings." Almodovar also disputed the Journal-Gazette's description of the state's response as an "investigation," explaining it would be better characterized as an "administrative review."
  • The city has updated its winter emergency shelter plan for obvious reasons: it's really, really cold. The Rescue Mission, Just Neighbors, and St. Joseph Missions Women's Shelter are all open 24 hours, and the Salvation Army is open on select days. But, as Street Reach for the Homeless/@thegoodinfortwayne point out, no additional overnight shelters have been opened despite the freezing temps. In the past, the city opened additional warming centers at locations, like the Community Center, so we're curious about this change in approach.
  • Fort Wayne-based designer Nate Utesch recently worked on album art for Jennifer Lopez. (Yes, that Jennifer Lopez.) Utesch, who also fronts the local band Metavari, revealed the final product in an Instagram post last week. "I think we worked on over one hundred variations and concepts," he told us in an email. "It’s been pretty incredible to see her talking about how happy she is with the art." And speaking of music...

A new event center, passenger rail updates, and more. Read about these local stories in our premium newsletter.

Local Spotlight

Meet Piebald Shark Books.

Fort Wayne's first mobile book cart, peddling strange and unusual titles for people of all ages.

Friends Nick Tash and Sarah Suraci started Piebald Shark Books mobile book cart in the fall of 2023.

What's happening?

Fort Wayne friends Nick Tash and Sarah Suraci started the city’s first mobile book cart in 2023, selling new “strange and unusual” titles at local coffee shops and businesses.  

  • Why? Because they love books and wanted to fill a gap in the local market for an independent new bookseller.
  • So what do they carry? Books they love, ranging from unusual scientific books and horror titles to harder to find film books and weird histories of unusual people or events. They also focus on translated children’s books from Japan, Italy and other countries, many from a publisher out of New York called Enchanted Lion Books
  • Book buyer Nick Tash says: “Our stock is a reflection of my weird interests because if I figured if I carry what is interesting to me, maybe somebody else will like it, too.”  
  • In the future: they’d like to open their own book and print shop for risograph, or digital screen, printing.
  • In the meantime: you can find them at coffee shops like Firefly and Conjure on the weekends. Watch their Instagram for updates!

Learn more in our full interview here!

To do list

Our favorite things to do this week.

  • Try: a new restaurant during Savor Fort Wayne, Jan. 17-28. According to Visit Fort Wayne, more than 80 restaurants are participating this year, offering special menu items and pairings to encourage residents to eat local. (I plan to finally check out Proof° on South Calhoun, in what I always refer to as "the old CS3 building.") Learn more at SavorFortWayne.com.
  • Learn: more about local architecture with a free lecture on the Arts United Center, titled "Louis Kahn’s Only Performing Arts Theater: A History and a Future." It's the first event in ARCH's 2024 Fun and Free Lecture Series, and will take place at 1 p.m. Jan. 20 in the Cinema Center's Spectator Lounge.

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Got a story tip or idea?

Let us know at thelocalfortwayne@gmail.com.

Stay warm out there!

-Ryan Schnurr