August 18, 2023 - Celebrating a continued commitment to neighborhood improvement, Mayor Tom Henry, neighborhood leaders, Indiana Department of Natural Resources representatives, City Council members, and City Utilities staff cut the ribbon for the Colonial Heritage Wetlands project. 

The project, which is the third phase of the Hessen Cassel Road corridor stormwater project, includes an expansion of the wetlands with native plants, a new two-stage ditch to manage and temporarily store more water until after a storm, a bioswale in the middle of the project to collect more flow from a heavy rain event, and a walkway to allow residents to explore nature. 

At a time where wetlands are disappearing around the world, these wetlands are rare in their placement within an urban environment. In addition to their practical drainage, water purifying, erosion and flood-control benefits, they are a beautifying asset that promotes access to nature.

The multi-phase Hessen Cassel improvement protects 2,300 homes and 70 businesses in 12 neighborhoods. 

"I'm incredibly proud of the work to relieve the chronic flooding and strengthen the neighborhoods up and down a three-mile stretch of Hessen Cassel Road," said Mayor Henry. "For the past five years, we've invested more than $40 million in neighborhood stormwater improvements throughout the community to protect residents from flooding. These improvements also protect the environment and sustain our streams, creeks, and rivers with better water quality." 

The Colonial Heritage Wetlands project improves drainage in the Colonial Heritage neighborhood and the Tuckers Court subdivision. Besides funding from City Utilities, the project received a $150,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and a $200,000 grant from the Great Lakes Commission to help protect the Great Lakes basin by installing erosion and nutrient control practices. The Maumee River flows to Lake Erie. 

"The Great Lakes Commission is proud to support local efforts to restore the Great Lakes and revitalize communities. Our Great Lakes Sediment and Nutrient Reduction Program grant to Fort Wayne City Utilities will reduce nutrient pollution to Trier Ditch and Lake Erie and will help reconnect the Colonial Heritage neighborhood with nature," said Executive Director Erika Jensen, Great Lakes Commission.

The neighborhoods benefiting from the multi-phase Hessen Cassel projects include Branning Hills, Casselwood Terrace, Eastland Gardens, Hickory Grove, Trier Ridge Park, Rolling Rose, Village Woods Community, Congress-McKinnie, Village Green, Colonial Heritage, Hoevelwood and Greater McMillen Park. 

City Utilities has completed over 30 similar neighborhood stormwater improvements over the past five years. 

"As our $40 million, five-year plan winds down, it's rewarding to see the completion of the projects that make a difference in neighborhoods throughout the community. I want to thank our engineering and construction teams, who pushed forward with our five-year plan that had the challenging interruptions of a global pandemic and its aftermath of labor shortages and price increases," said Deputy Director of Engineering Matthew Wirtz. "Through dedicated teamwork and community support, we've successfully improved drainage, reduced flooding, and enhanced our city's overall resilience."

While hundreds of smaller projects took place in the last five years, the larger projects, many that took multiple years to complete, include Aboite Meadows, Ardmore & Airport Expressway, Blackhawk Phase 3, Brookside/Parkerdale, Bullerman Drain Phase 1, Danny Drive, Decatur Road, Fernwood/Dalevue Phase 2, Hadley Road, Harrison and Superior, Hessen Cassel Phases 1,2,3, Lakeside, Lawrence Drain Phases 2&3, Limberlost, Louisedale, Maplewood Park, Pemberton, Pine Valley Phases 2&3, Plymouth, Quimby Village, Rothman/Tamarack, Rudisill/Anthony, Spy Run, St. Croix, Stone Lake, Vesey Gruber, Warsaw, Wayne Trace/Pontiac, West Central, and Wheatridge.

As this year's projects come to a close, City Utilities is already working on the next series of tasks. The focus continues to be on protecting neighborhoods, reducing flooding and improving drainage. At the same time, plans will include components to protect the environment and sustain Fort Wayne for the future.