Army Corps wants more historic info on Columbus river project

The city of Columbus is facing a new obstacle toward construction of a riverfront improvement project and extension of the People Trail system.

Heather Pope, director of the city redevelopment department, said that the Army Corps of Engineers is requesting more information about possible anthropological significance of two areas of the riverfront project. The agency wants to know whether the areas warrant a more in depth look into whether there could be artifacts in the area.

Specifically, the agency is concerned about the area around First Street where the current DNR boat ramp is, and an area across East Fork White River from the pump house brewery. Pope said that the city has been working with historic preservation officials since the start of the project planning and this is the first time the concern has been raised.

The city will now consider hiring an archaeology firm to provide more information.

To the positive, the state announced last month that the trail expansion portion of the project received a $1.7 million grant from the Next Level Trails program. Pope updated the redevelopment commission on the project Monday, saying the grant money could only be used for the trail extension, which would finish the loop around the city around the Second Street bridge. It could not be used for other parts of the project such as removing the dam from the river.

Illustration courtesy of Columbus Redevelopment Commission 2021 annual report