Redevelopment commission approves $14 million riverfront plan

A Columbus panel has signed off on a plan to improve the downtown riverfront at a cost of just over $14 million dollars.

The Columbus Redevelopment Commission which controls funds in the city’s tax increment financing districts approved a proposal for $11.6 million in funding for the riverfront project last night. More than $2.4 million has already been raised through grants and donations.

The proposal will next go to Columbus City Council for its consideration.

The project would involve removing the low-head dam between the Second and Third street bridges, shoring up the riverbanks, replanting the banks and other recreational improvements. The city would also make the final connection of the People Trail making a complete loop around the city.

The dam itself is failing and water is scouring away at an old city dump site in the area. The plans call for $3.2 million for the general project and contingencies, $4.2 million for the east bank, $435 thousand for the west bank and $3.9 million for in-river improvements. Another $1.9 million would go to mitigation efforts and monitoring and a possible $245 thousand for other improvements.

A costs and benefits analysis by James Lima Planning concluded that the improvements could provide up to $2 million in economic output for local businesses. That would generate between 9 and 32 jobs and bring in between $47 and $164 thousand in local and state tax revenue.

Columbus resident Hutch Schumaker spoke out against the proposal, saying that it was not a good return on investment. While he said he supports the dam removal and shoring up the riverbanks, the other work is an unneeded expense especially with other city needs.

Photo courtesy of City of Columbus Redevelopment Department