FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — In 10 years time we may not even recognize Fort Wayne.

After all, 10 years ago one of Fort Wayne’s most prominent locations, Promenade Park, wasn’t even recognizable to what it is today.

“Ten years ago, we were just on the cusp of talking about it, and look at where we are now,” said Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Director Steve McDaniel.

Promenade Park in 2021 vs Promenade Park in 2012

That example of what can change in a short time is exactly why the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department is putting together its comprehensive plan for the next 10 years of parks in Summit City.

“The plan itself, we look at it like our North Star,” said the Parks and Recreation Department’s deputy director of planning Alec Johnson.

Being that North Star means that the department is putting together a far-out goal that they can look to for the future, and not necessarily a day-to-day planner.

It’ll be used in conjunction with the master plan that has already been prepared, but the department described the comprehensive plan as the more in-depth of the two, while the Master plan exists “primarily to meet requirements of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.”

The 2023-2028 Five-Year Parks and Recreation Master Plan is a valuable tool, prepared primarily to meet requirements of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources in order to be eligible to apply for DNR Land and Water Conservation Fund grants. It is updated every five years.

Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation is casting a bigger vision with the Comprehensive Park Plan for 10 years; including recreational programming, funding strategies and trends. These are things that the five-year plan does not require.

Going forward, Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation is working to align the two plans into one that addresses all of the aspects needed for grant eligibility as well as the programming, strategy and trend data to serve residents and visitors needs efficiently and proactively.

Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department

With the comprehensive plan being the guide for 81 parks in Fort Wayne, the primary goal before creating the plan was to gather feedback.

“It’s looking at what our citizens are looking for,” McDaniel said.

While in the past that has meant the department hosts a number of meetings, this year they had an additional tool, Social Pinpoint.

“The benefit of this as opposed to a survey where we have stock questions you answer, [is] this gives you the opportunity if you have an idea that might be a little different or that might not be expected, it’s a great place to put that idea,” Johnson said. “There is also the opportunity to comment back and forth almost like a social media platform.”

While the department still took surveys and held meetings for feedback using the new online format helped them get more specific, and a greater range of feedback.

All of that then goes into the hands of a consultant the city is using, Design Workshop.

“Number one, we have a consultant team that does the bulk of that work,” Johnson said. “They’ve done Park master plans for New Orleans and Minneapolis and Boulder Colorado and in Denver, Colorado so they really know what they’re doing.”

The city and Design Workshop will continue to go back and forth until the city is happy with the state of the plan for the next decade.

“Our people that started the parks 120 years ago, they had this vision and we’re just trying to keep that vision going in the right direction,” McDaniel said.