We have been diligently working to ensure public input on all plans to refocus attention on our Riverfront. We realize that this is “our” River and that the future of our community will continue to be tied to innovation and creativity. Having a vibrant Riverfront that is developed based upon considerable community and public input is important to the future of Columbus and the state of Indiana.
Since 2017, the City of Columbus and Redevelopment Commission have worked with multiple divisions within the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to review our recommendations for redevelopment of a tremendous community asset. Those plans made a priority of protecting our environment, ensuring safety in all aspects, being fiscally responsible and continuing Columbus’ history and legacy of architectural quality and innovation throughout all design aspects.
Please note that we have also presented the proposed improvements to representatives of Congressman Pence and Governor Holcomb, who support the many benefits of the Riverfront project. We will make changes to this website to keep you informed as the project moves forward.
Citizens Committee Goals
- 10’-12’ Multi-use trail on the east bank of the river that connects to other pathways and trails in the vicinity.
- River overlook areas
- Low-maintenance materials, including those that will withstand flooding
- Lighting to promote safety
- Removal of low-head dam
- Improvements to increase use of the river for recreational activities, including but not limited to the addition of riffles, rapids, or other water features to replace the dam
- Repair of the erosion on the west bank of the river due to the low head dam and protection of both banks from future erosion
- Beautification of the land on the west bank of the river, which may include trails or park- like features
- Areas of public art to be incorporated in the future. It is anticipated that the selected design team will coordinate with the Columbus Area Arts Council for placement of the art.
For more dedicated detail of the Riverfront Project, visit the Riverfront website.
- December 2016: During the summer of 2016, a Riverfront Community Committee was formed. The committee was tasked with gathering community feedback addressing important or desired additions to Columbus, IN. A “Request for Proposal” was generated and Hitchcock Design Group was selected as the design team for the Riverfront Redevelopment Project.
- December 19, 2016: The Redevelopment Commission approved entering into contract negotiations with Hitchcock Design in an amount not to exceed $229,000.
- November 8, 2017: A community-wide OPEN HOUSE was held November 8, 2017 at the Hamilton Community Center. More than 100 community members, City employees, Hitchcock Design Team professionals and media attended.
- January 22, 2018: Columbus Redevelopment Commissioners unanimously voted to accept the Hitchcock Design plan that will turn our Columbus Riverfront into a first-class, architecturally significant, vibrant, multi-themed parkway that appeals to all ages and is accessible by all.
- February 21, 2018: The Columbus Redevelopment Commission voted unanimously to approve a new contract with Hitchcock Design Group for Phase I – Preliminary Design and Phase II – Design Development / Permitting Services. During these phases Hitchcock Design Group will further refine the Re-imagined Riverfront Concept Plan, provide preliminary engineering and submit the design to various state and federal agencies for permitting.
- June 20, 2018: The Geo technical field work has been completed, utilities have been coordinated, and schematic design is finished. Two grants have been applied for: The USFWS Fish Passage Grant and the DNR Lake and River Enhancement (L.A.R.E.).
- August 20, 2018: Design updates have been completed based on Regulatory feedback. Schematic design has been submitted and reviewed, and coordination efforts are ongoing with IDEM on ERC of old landfill site. The DNR Lake and River Enhancement (L.A.R.E.) grant was denied for this project.
- September 17, 2018: Additional soil testing on the west bank was completed for wetland determination. Project efforts have been coordinated with regulatory agencies on fish passage. IDEM reviewed updated ERC on west bank. Hydraulic modeling of current design with “no rise” condition showed good news.
- October 25, 2018: Regulatory agencies made a site visit to Columbus and the Riverfront early in October to discuss pre-permitting requirements. Those in attendance represented US Army Corp of Engineers, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Department of Natural Resources, and US Fish & Wildlife along with the Columbus Riverfront design team.
- November 19, 2018: Project coordination continued with Regulatory Agencies. A fish biologist joined the design team to address DNR concerns about fish passage. The Design Development documents are refined. IDEM has reviewed and submitted ERC modification to EPA for their approval. Updates to the website are initiated and a 3D study model of the riverfront was completed.
- November 11, 2018: The Riverfront Task Force met.
- December 17, 2018: Modifications to the in-river structures and trail alignment due to Regulatory Agency input have been made. The EPA and IDEM have approved of modified ERC. Regulatory coordination continued and with aiming for permit submission within two months.
- January 28, 2019: Regulatory Coordination continued with a focus to submit designs and plans for review by the end of February.
- February 21, 2019: Redevelopment and Riverfront consultants met with the regulatory agencies.
- March 18, 2019: Next Level Trails Grant has been submitted. Environmental Restrictive Covenant (ERC) modification on the west bank is complete.
- May 2, 2019: The City of Columbus Next Level Trails Grant application was not selected to be funded through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources program. A new wetland investigation is required and will be completed at the end of May.
- May 20, 2019: Randy Royer with Hitchcock Design presented the updated plans and new design scope to the Columbus Redevelopment Commission.
- June 10, 2019: Revised Design & Schedule Updates for the Re imagining our Riverfront Project.
- June 27, 2019: The Columbus Redevelopment Commission and Columbus City Council were presented the updated plans and design concepts for the Reimagining Our Riverfront project last month by Hitchcock Design Group.
- August 29, 2019: Reapplied to the Heritage Fund Positive Change Grant program.
- October 28, 2019: DNR application filed.
- November 1, 2019: Filed with the Next Level Trails grant program.
- December 16, 2019: Approved Hitchcock Design Group to complete the construction and bidding documents for the Riverfront.
- December 23, 2019: Filed paperwork with Army Corps of Engineers.
- February 8, 2020: Received comments from the DNR regarding the submitted application.
- June 22, 2020: Follow-up materials, comments and content provided to DNR following a meeting at DNR headquarters.
- August 18, 2020: Meeting to discuss second round of DNR comments.
- October 20, 2020: Meeting with Governor Holcomb’s office to provide an update on the Riverfront.
- November 23, 2020: Redevelopment hosts a meeting with the Mayor and DNR Director to walk the riverbank, discuss the Riverfront project continuing efforts and provide an update on the Riverfront application.
- June 14, 2021: Filed draft permit with USACE and IDEM.
- August 31, 2021: Receive USACE responses to draft permit filed.
- September 29, 2021: Formally filed our permit with USACE.
- November 10, 2021: Meeting with IDEM and USACE to discuss filing comments.
- November 24, 2021: Re-submission to USACE with recommended permit application revisions.
- November 30, 2021: Riverfront Trail application submitted for the Next Level Trails (NLT) Round Three Submission.
- December 2021: Received comments from USACE in regards to the revised and resubmitted permit application. Additionally, the Columbus Riverfront Team received comments from the NLT Round Three application.
- January 2022: An updated NLT application was resubmitted based on the initial submission comments. Additional comments from USACE are submitted to the Columbus Riverfront Team.
- March 2022: The Columbus Team resubmits a permit application to USACE in response to comments received.
- April 2022: The Riverfront Project is awarded with a Next Level Trails grant in the amount of $1,727,000 to be used toward the trail component of the project. Additionally, USACE opens comment submissions to the public in regards to the Riverfront Project.
- May 2022: Continued correspondence with USACE and IDEM on permit application and comments.
- June 2022: The Riverfront Project is submitted for consideration under the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI). USACE submits public comment to the Columbus Team and requests feedback on additional inquiries. NLT meeting held to introduce the grant process and next steps.
- July 2022: On-site evaluation of the river takes place for the Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) reporting. A revised submission was sent to USACE to address their outstanding inquiries in relation to the project and public comment. The Riverfront presentation was delivered to Administrative Resources association (ARa), Southern Indiana Housing Community Development Corporation (SIHCDC), Ernst and Young (EY), and the Indiana Economic Development Corp (IEDC) for consideration on a $600,000 READI grant allocation.
- August 2022: The Columbus Riverfront team submits a revised response to USACE to address their permit inquiries. Additionally, we received notification that the Riverfront project meets the eligibility requirements for READI grant funding.
- September 2022: USACE submits feedback, questions and comments addressing our August response submission with feedback from the EPA. The Columbus Riverfront team conducts a virtual meeting with USACE to obtain direction to draft a formal response to their latest inquiries. Additionally, we submit our first quarterly report to Next Level Trails to report project updates required to fulfill our grant acceptance obligations.
- October 2022: First meeting with our Next Level Trails Grant Coordinator to discuss quarterly reports. Additionally, the Columbus Riverfront Team met regularly to address the most recent USACE comments in response to the latest permit application submission.
- November 2022: The Columbus Riverfront Team meets regularly to progress on the response draft to USACE. This will be submitted in December 2022.
- December 2022: The Columbus Riverfront Team submitted an updated permit application to include all revisions to date. Additionally, to satisfy grant reporting requirements, quarterly reports are filed for the Next Level Trails grant and also for the READI grant.
- January 2023: The Columbus Riverfront Team engage with the EPA and Army Corps on the updated application submission. USACE has advised that the application is under review and they are drafting a response/questions to be submitted in January.
- March 2023: USACE submits a request for an additional geotechnical survey and additional soil borings. The Next Level Trails quarterly report is submitted per this project’s grant requirements.
- April 2023: Permit application response received from USACE with additional EPA comments for consideration. The Columbus Riverfront team meets on several occasions throughout the month of April to prepare a formal response to additional USACE and EPA inquiries.
- May 2023: The Columbus Riverfront team submits a formal response to USACE and files for the IDEM permit.