Columbus riverfront project advances with $11+ million approval

A more than $14 million improvement project for the East Fork White River in downtown Columbus is moving forward after winning approval from Columbus City Council this week.

The council was asked this week to approve spending up to $11.6 million for the project, on top of more than $2.4 million raised through grants and donations.

The project would remove the low-head dam between the Second and Third street bridges, shore up the riverbanks, provide for in-water recreation and other improvements. The city would also make the final connection of the People Trail under the Robert N. Stewart bridge finishing a complete loop around the city.

Several residents said they were opposed to parts of the project, citing concerns over the $3.9 million in recreational improvements, the need for the in-river recreation and the low water levels in the river.

The Columbus Redevelopment Commission recommended the spending last month, but it has a cap of $500 thousand dollars before spending must be approved by City Council. The council gave its first approval for the project this week. Councilman Frank Miller was the single vote against the proposal.