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Downtown Riverfront Park Given Green Light

Brent Warren Brent Warren Downtown Riverfront Park Given Green Light
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Two potentially transformative projects were cleared to move forward this week by Downtown Commissioners. In addition to giving their conditional approval to the 250 High development, the commission also gave a thumbs up to the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation’s plan for the 33 acres of greenspace that will be created along the Scioto River downtown when the Main Street dam is removed.

Keith Meyers, who has served as a consultant on the project since 2010 (when the idea was first unveiled as a part of the Downtown Strategic Plan), presented new details and drawings and answered questions about the project.

The river, which today is nearly 600 feet wide and about eight feet deep, will be about half that width after the dam is removed. The new, more naturalized river will have an average depth of 12 feet, but it will be deeper than that in places (pools could reach a depth of 18 feet), and less deep in others (where riffles are created by placing large stones in the river, it will be four to eight feet deep).

The bulk of the plan, though, addresses the new land that will be created along the banks of the river. About two thirds of that land will be maintained turf that gradually slopes down to the riverfront. Naturalized plantings selected to withstand seasonal flooding will be concentrated toward the river’s edge.

Paths will provide connections for cyclists traveling on the Olentangy or Scioto Trails, taking some bike traffic off of the upper promenade. A poured-concrete wall will provide a more defined edge for the river in front of the Supreme Court Building, and in front of COSI, a green lawn will extend from the existing amphitheater site.

Existing parks and spaces along the river will be also retooled to take advantage of the new land. The concrete that now defines Battelle Park, for example, will be taken out in favor of a more natural slope to the river (the Santa Maria will have to be moved to a new wharf, although it will stay in the same general area it is today). Additionally, a number of the memorials now scattered along the riverfront will be relocated and placed together to form a new memorial park.

In approving the plan, commissioners were positive but requested more details about some elements, including lighting and the treatment of bridge columns that will be exposed when the dam is removed.

Commissioner Bob Loversidge also suggested that more of the balustrade that runs along Civic Center Drive, which was recently restored as part of the Scioto Mile project, be preserved. Meyers said that they could accommodate that suggestion, and will return with plans to a future meeting.

In the meantime, though, the project is cleared to start, and the CDDC hopes to begin this fall, with construction expected to take about two years.

For ongoing discussion on the Scioto River Greenway, CLICK HERE to visit our messageboard.

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  • columbusmike

    I was hoping for something a little more interesting than grass….something along the lines of Millennium Park in Chicago, with a mix of contemporary paths, sculptures, etc.

  • jpizzow

    Yea, I’m hoping some sculptures can be incorporated along the way.

  • Pablo

    Funny that Keith Meyers presented the plan. I thought he had to give up all ties to MKSK when he took the OSU VP job?


  • rory

    The Santa Maria is weird now but it’s going to look weirder in its new naturalistic setting. Maybe it’s time to give the Santa Maria to one of our sister cities.

  • bferriot

    I’d like to know if/how they will address the goose problem. Geese love gently graded grassy slopes.

  • columbusmike


    With the number of dogs that will probably walk along the river, the geese will likely not want to be around (although they tend to be a problem over at North Bank Park)

  • Pablo

    I think the Santa Maria should be pulled out of the river and given to COSI. I’ll bet it will have more visitors than it receives now.

  • columbusmike

    I’d still like to see one side be hardscape up to the water edge (not just a small stretch across from COSI). It’s a little strange having grass going up to the water in the heart of a downtown.

  • Stephen43215

    How about a boardwalk along the west side of the Scioto? Maybe a playground with a interacting water feature also close by to Cosi. Something more than trees and bike paths.

  • @rory – Ever been by the Santa Maria when it’s book for hosting a party at night and all lit up? It’s awesome! I say we keep it and start getting it booked for private events (like North Bank is every weekend) and make it constantly being used for good stuff!

  • Cbusflyer

    Hook a helicopter up to the Santa Maria put it in front of COSI.

  • jpizzow

    The problem with the Santa Maria location right now is the underutilized park space surrounding it. It kind of feels cut off from downtown with all of the trees and steep slopes. Bringing something interactive to Battelle Park, which is in need of a desperate makeover, would do wanders for that section of the park. Maybe something like this:

  • scorpcmh

    Agree with Walker. I walk by the Santa Maria all the time, and there are usually guests on board when it’s open, and families in the area. I have had people ask about it several times, disappointed that it was closed at the time they were there. It’s just quirky enough that people seem to go for it. (and cool lit up at night)

    I can’t say I am too excited about the whole river plan. There are many other things in that downtown plan that I would prioritize above this one. A Broad Street DIET would be a good starter.

  • I think the Santa Maria would be best served in the middle of a “Faux Urban Beach” park that looks anything like these:


  • rory

    @Walker, the Santa Maria on the beach is an inspired idea. It does seem to attract a crowd from time to time. And I think it’s better than my other uncharitable idea of moving to the North Bank park and using it as the grand finale for the WaterFire season. ;)

  • jpizzow

    I guess I put the image above in wrong but it is of a playground shaped as an old ship. It’s something that could attract more and complement the Santa Maria. And yes. It would also look good next to a faux urban beach :)

  • cbucher1

    Not bad, but like others are saying, some more features would be great. Especially sculptures and other art. I think a concrete area with benches would be great, like that of Dayton’s Riverscape. That’s a beautiful river-side park, especially for being in such an awful city. So it stand to reason that Columbus should have a much nicer park.

  • RedStorm

    Another “revitalization” along the river that’s grass, trees, etc. We could be utilizing the riverfront in a much more diverse manner.

  • I’d love a sandy beach. I think that would get used so much and really add a new feel to our city.

    Also fixed your image jpizzow! :)

  • ricospaz

    I say float the Santa Maria over there. If it sinks we have a sweet shipwreck in the middle of the Scioto!

  • columbusmike
  • AndrewColumbusAspiringPlanner

    I’m all for revitalization projects and this one is no exception. All the ideas everyone has been posting seems to be very good suggestions, and could really liven up the space. However I’m concerned over the areas that will not have a concrete edge. When you have an edge to the water like we have now its the same to me as a zero setback for buildings, which means downtown and Urban. When you place a large green space that gradually back off of the river it causes the appearance of a suburban nature, and here in Columbus that’s exactly what were getting away from. My other concern is with this grassy knoll look and the seasonal flooding how will they keep it maintained and looking good, I don’t know if anyone has seen when a river recedes but it leaves dirt, debris, and garbage when it does, causing the grass and any shrubs they put down there to look like garbage, they might want to rethink this idea it seems to cause more harm than good.

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