Downtown Riverfront Park Given Green Light
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.