Redevelopment commission authorizes funding for riverfront project

Photo provided An overhead view of the low-head dam in the East Fork White River which would be removed as part of the proposed Riverfront Project.

COLUMBUS, Ind. — The Columbus Redevelopment Commission has authorized funding for the proposed riverfront redevelopment between the Second and Third Street bridges.

The commission voted Monday to approve almost $11.6 million from the Central Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district for the project. The expense will also need to be approved by Columbus City Council, as it exceeds $500,000. It is expected to be on the council’s agenda for Dec. 5, city officials said at a previous meeting.

The riverfront project seeks to address safety issues related to the deteriorating low-head dam in the East Fork White River without damaging wetlands upstream or impacting the river water level through Mill Race Park.

In addition, the project is expected to safeguard the riverbanks from ongoing erosion, including on the west side of the river near the Third Street bridge, which was the site of a landfill from 1938 to 1966 that is believed to have accepted 3.46 million gallons of industrial wastes, including solvents, bases, paints and heavy metals, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

City officials also have proposed building connections with the People Trail system and an in-water recreation area, branding the project as an effort to “create an iconic riverfront experience that improves safety.”

According to the city of Columbus, the total project cost is estimated at a little over $14 million, which includes about $3 million for contingencies.

For the complete story, see Wednesday’s print edition.