The Columbus Redevelopment Commission and the Columbus City Council will hear details tonight about the proposed Columbus Riverfront project, including a cost estimate topping $8.6 million if all ideas that have been proposed are included in the final plan.
The 6 p.m. joint meeting at the Donner Center, 739 22nd St., will include a presentation from Hitchcock Design Group, along with a shared vision, funding and phasing options and an implementation schedule, said Heather Pope, redevelopment director for the city.
The Naperville, Illinois-based firm was hired by the city last December at a cost of $299,000 to create a design for the project along the East Fork White River between the Second and Third street bridges.
Hitchcock’s conceptual design was unveiled to the public during a Nov. 8 open house. Ideas included an in-water recreation park, a river-themed children’s play space and an expansion of the city’s People Trail system. Details on those components of the plan will be presented to the commission and City Council members, Pope said.
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Estimated costs of the various components for Columbus’ downtown riverfront will be among the newest developments presented to city officials. If approved, funding for the Riverfront project would come from the city’s Central Tax Increment Financing District, in addition to public/private partnerships that will be pursued, Pope said.
As part of the first phase, a trail connection beginning on Water Street, heading north and connecting to the other side of the Second Street bridge, is estimated to cost $1.9 million. The city plans to pursue a Destination Development grant through the Indiana Office of Tourism Development, Pope said.
The city learned in June that taking out the low-head dam, located between the bridges, would not affect the flow of the river. Removing the dam, near the Upland Columbus Pump House, is estimated to cost $500,000 to $700,000, she said.
Columbus has already applied for a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — estimated to be worth $150,000 to $200,000 — to cover some dam-removal costs, with a funding decision expected in August of 2018, Pope said.
Details about an in-water recreation park will be presented by Scott Shipley, president of S2o Design, which has designed more than 30 in-stream recreation parks that feature rafting and kayaking. The Columbus in-water recreation park is estimated to cost $1.6 million.
“That’s to provide the community with another amenity,” Pope said.
Hitchcock Design Group has estimated a $3.74 million cost for shoreline stabilization on the east and west banks of the river, with amenities such as a Riverfront plaza and overlooks costing an additional $815,000.
Pope said the project remains contingent on whether the city receives approval from regulatory agencies such as the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, among others.
A proposed $2.5 million Riverwalk championed in July 2015 by then-Mayor Kristen Brown was abandoned when the Columbus City Council took no action on funding. The council chose not to vote in August 2015 to approve spending $282,500 in TIF funds toward engineering work for a pedestrian bridge to connect the People Trails between Mill Race Park and the Robert N. Stewart Bridge.
The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the Riverfront design during tonight’s meeting, which Pope said was intended to bring the Columbus Redevelopment Commission and City Council together to hear details and provide feedback. No formal action will be taken by either body, she said.
“Ultimately, these boards will be getting funding requests … and the boards have an opportunity to hear everyone’s questions,” Pope said.
A second joint meeting between the commission and City Council members will be held in mid- to late January that will involve a final concept plan for the Columbus Riverfront being presented, she said.
What: Columbus Riverfront joint meeting between Columbus Redevelopment Commission and Columbus City Council
When: 6 to 8 p.m. today at Donner Center, 739 22nd St.
More information: columbusriverfront.org