As Columbus government officials try to decide how to improve the downtown riverfront, it’s clear that great possibilities exist to making the area more of a destination point.

What’s most important, though, is that local people are being involved in the process. A public workshop April 5 at Columbus City Hall was the first opportunity for local residents to share and hear ideas for improvements.

The workshop’s format was conducive to making the public a partner in riverfront development. Attendees were asked to describe the current condition of the riverfront, for example. While some of the responses were unflattering, they provided valuable insight about the public’s perception — which is needed for future improvements.

Attendees also broke into small groups and were asked to suggest one idea they would like to see considered. Suggestions from the public included:

  • An arboretum
  • Built-in benches
  • Recreation for children
  • Age group-specific activities
  • Nature areas
  • A trail to connect to Haw Creek to provide more recreation opportunities

Including the public in discussions about future riverfront use will help officials better understand what ideas have broad interest and would be worth pursuing.

Good government not only includes transparency, but also public participation. The public workshop was a good example of that. As a result, residents and city officials are better informed, making it more likely that whatever ideas are chosen for riverfront improvements will have solid public support.