By Sarah Janssen
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) – At age 12, Kelly Lynch remembers a ride downtown with his father.
As they drove along Clinton Street approaching the north river property, Lynch’s father said here, close to the city’s center, was where steam engine No. 765 belonged, a location that would allow people to discover and appreciate the vintage locomotive.
Now at age 27, Lynch is championing the idea of bringing locomotive No. 765, a steam engine bought and restored by the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, to downtown as the centerpiece in a plan to develop the north river property.
“It was the image of people discovering (steam locomotive No. 765) and using the engine as a social gathering space that kept me up nights trying to figure out how to make this happen,” Lynch, who is the society’s volunteer public relations manager, told The Journal Gazette.
Lynch’s idea for Headwaters Junction, an educational and entertainment venue that would provide a link to local attractions like the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, isn’t new. Lynch first proposed the idea more than two years ago, before the historic Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad freight depot on Clinton Street was demolished, but hasn’t been able to gather enough monetary support for the plan.
What’s changed is the opportunity for funding through the Legacy Fund, money the city made on the lease and sale of its old electric utility City Power & Light.
About $47 million will be immediately available, while an additional $28 million will trickle in over the next 12 years.
Lynch’s proposal carries a price tag of about $20.5 million, based on estimates from other cities that have tackled similar endeavors. He said if completed in its entirety as proposed, Headwaters Junction would require funding from various sources, but the Legacy Fund provided the vehicle for the idea to take off.
A nod from the task force determining how the funds should be spent could provide a boost to the plan in convincing the mayor, his administration and the community that Headwaters Junction is a viable option for the north river property near the St. Marys River just north of downtown.1 2 next >>