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Doors opening in gate debate; officials rethink look of barriers

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The gate debate continues as city officials are listening to a late request to slightly modify one aspect of the Fourth Street renovation project.

Local architect Louis Joyner and Kelly Wilson, director of the Indiana University Center of Art and Design-Columbus, introduced a “slimmed-down” version of barriers Tuesday designed to block off Fourth Street for citywide festivities.

“Put this thing on a diet,” Wilson said.

The design for the eight gates proposed for the 300 and 400 blocks of Fourth Street resembled railroad gates. Each would cost $24,920 to build, or about 12 percent of the $1.7 million being spent to make Fourth Street a multifunctional urban corridor with more trees, benches and energy-efficient lighting.

About the gates

The $1.7 million project to modify Fourth Street includes designs for eight gate-like structures, capable of closing off the street for citywide festivities. On Tuesday, city officials and local architects came up with an alternative design to the gates. Here are a few of the suggested changes:

  • Reduce the size of the bases of the gates.
  • Reduce the height of the gates. The original design had each gate base set up on a curb 12 inches tall. City officials are considering reducing the setting by 6 inches.
  • Make the art panel a constant shape.
  • Add decorative art, such as “Dancing C’s” to the art panel.

Mayor Kristen Brown, City Engineer Dave Hayward, Community Development Director Mary Ferdon and Heather Pope, executive director of the Columbus Redevelopment Commission, heard Wilson and Joyner present alternative suggestions Tuesday afternoon in the mayor’s office. The city officials shared their concern of making major adjustments that would stall the construction process.

Afterward, Hayward said, the interested parties were able to agree on a compromise.

The new proposal involves reducing the size of the base and modifying the art panel.

“The discussion was about to produce a more contemporary, more modern ... street gate,” Wilson said. “It would be more elegant. So many ideas were flowing in how to address this.”

Pope suggested the notion of adding decorative “Dancing C’s,” popular around downtown Columbus, to the art panel. And the art panel itself was redrawn.

“The art panel is kind of a tapered shape,” Hayward said. “We’re going to consider it be more of a constant width.”

Total redesign of the gates was a near impossibility because of the need for construction to stay on schedule, which has a Nov. 7 target completion date.

City officials will present a modified plan today to everyone involved in creating the gates, but Hayward said no decision will be made until public input is received.

“We’ll be contacting downtown businesses in the Fourth Street corridor,” Hayward said. “I don’t think any of these changes are major.”

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