In this August 2013 file photo, Scott Niswonger and visiting architects meet with Van Wert officials and visit the site of the future Franklin Park. On Thursday, Niswonger met again with officials to discuss concepts and funding for the former Franklin School site. (TB File Photo)
In this August 2013 file photo, Scott Niswonger and visiting architects meet with Van Wert officials and visit the site of the future Franklin Park. On Thursday, Niswonger met again with officials to discuss concepts and funding for the former Franklin School site. (TB File Photo)
VAN WERT — Last summer, Van Wert native Scott Niswonger came to town to talk about turning the site of his former elementary school into a park. The city had just been given the land by Van Wert City Schools. On that day, Niswonger brought his architects John Fisher and Jim Douglas to get a look at the land and to talk possibilities with Van Wert officials.

On Thursday, Niswonger was back in Ft. Wayne to take the next step in the progress of constructing Franklin Park. He met with Mayor Don Farmer, Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming, Parks Department Director Sue Heppeard, City Council President Ken Mengerink, and Niswonger’s architect John Fisher. That group talked about concepts of what could or might occur at the site of the former Franklin School.

The big news from that meeting was that Niswonger agreed to fund 50 percent of the improvements at the Franklin School site, up to $500,000.

“Scott stepped forward again for us, and we truly appreciate his involvement and his generosity,” said Mayor Farmer. “What we were able to view [at the Thursday meeting] was the first concept of what could be done at the Franklin School property. It consists of many components that would make this a true family park, and a true asset to the community. At this point, his architect has done pricing of components and landscaping in their area [Greeneville, Tennessee]. We will be taking those components and looking at them to see what would fit our community, if not all those, and getting a local pricing to estimate a cost.”



Farmer did note that with the $500,000 from Niswonger, the city may be able to obtain grants to help further with the costs. He also pointed out, “The park will probably become a public/private endeavor. We have people, as we have had in the past, who are interested in improving Van Wert. So that is something we will be looking at, and how the city can contribute to it.”

Once a local pricing estimate is obtained, the plan will go back to the architects, probably in two to four weeks.

“We will do that, then have another meeting with Scott Niswonger’s team and come up with a more concise plan, then at that point in time it will become a more public issue to look at,” Farmer stated. “This will probably involve several components as well as the funding for it.”