July 1 – AARP Grant for Fund Park and Dining Hall Improvements along Fort Wayne’s Wells Street |
Fort Wayne’s Wells Street Corridor will receive a $13,000 grant with changes to emphasize the surrounding Bloomingdale neighborhood and attract people to the neighborhood for small and small businesses, including a dining hall in this which is now an empty alley.
AARP Indiana announced June 30 that five organizations across the state, including Health By Design, an Indianapolis-based group aimed at promoting healthy, active living in communities, will receive 2022 Community Challenge grants.
Health by Design is acting as the Wells Street Corridor’s fiscal agent, said Chris Walker, president of the Bloomingdale’s Neighborhood Association.
Projects must be completed by November 30. The Wells Street projects will have an official kickoff at 6 p.m. on July 28 with music and ice cream, Walker said.
“We’re trying to be aware that small business owners are busy” and the neighborhood is trying to create activities to get people into the hallway, Walker said.
The north-south corridor connecting the North Side to the thriving downtown waterfront district is home to three restaurants, a hardware store, an army surplus store and more in a six-block stretch just north of the river St. Marys.
Three or four years ago, the neighborhood had many drug abuse issues and repeated calls to the police, Walker said.
“The park (at Third and Wells streets) had been empty for a long time with overdose issues,” Walker said.
The city has removed the benches, but now Third Street Park will command attention.
“Things are going a lot better,” Walker said. “We want to keep the momentum going.”
Other areas highlighted in the grant will be green space between Hyde Brothers Booksellers, 1428 N. Wells St., and Cog and Pearl next door, which recently had a train and fish mural honoring former residents added to its wall facing the green space.
Directly across the street is the alley between Indiana Mexican Bakery and La Michoacana Restaurant & Ice Cream Shop which the neighborhood wants to “activate”, much like the Downtown Improvement District has done with other spaces . It will be a place of restoration barred by planters.
Grant money will pay for planters, tables, chairs, Edison lights on poles and more; a third must go to events, with music and monthly activities scheduled, Walker said.
Wells Street is among the largest group of recipients to date with $3.4 million awarded to 260 organizations nationwide. “Grantees will implement quick action projects that will help communities become more livable in the long term by improving public places; transportation; lodging; diversity, equity and inclusion; digital access; and civic engagement, with a focus on the needs of adults 50 and older,” according to an AARP announcement about the grants.
Other Indiana projects are:
Blue River Services, Inc. (Corydon) – Toyota North America provided additional funding for several mobility and transportation projects across the country. Here in Indiana, it will help expand Blue River Services’ Southern Indiana Transit System (SITS) into Floyd County, where services are not currently provided. SITS provides on-demand transportation services for seniors and people with disabilities in the rural southern Indiana counties of Crawford, Harrison, Scott, and Washington.
Dream Center (Evansville) – This project will repair some sections of failing sidewalks and crumbling curbs in the heart of the Jacobsville neighborhood, an area of the city that has a high percentage of older adults. It will also update pedestrian crossing markings to improve walkability, safety and aesthetics.
The Heart of Lebanon (Lebanon) – After asking older residents what could make the dozens of events in downtown Lebanon more enjoyable, The Heart Lebanon took feedback to create a cart called “The Helping Hub”. Grant funds will be used to fill the cart with folding chairs, folding chairs, umbrellas and information about local services and activities for senior residents.
Anchor House (Seymour) – Anchor House received a grant to install an awning in its pantry to provide shade and shelter from the weather for shoppers. The grant will also support an art installation and increase awareness for Latin American communities in Jackson County.