Project Updates &

Public Input

Riverfront Design Team presents the final Riverfront Concept to the Columbus Redevelopment Commission!

On January 22nd, 2018, Hitchcock Design Group presented the Columbus Redevelopment Commission with the final concept for the Columbus Riverfront project.  The CRC members voted unanimously to accept the $8.6 million concept plan that includes several overlooks of the East Fork of the White River, connections to the People Trail system, an in-water recreation park, and many other captivating amenities.      


Project Summary

    The Columbus Redevelopment Commission is leading an initiative to improve the appearance, recreational function, environmental quality, and economic benefit of the East Fork of the White River between the 2nd and 3rd Street bridges (see project map).

    On behalf of the city, the Redevelopment Commission has engaged a team of planning, design, engineering, and market economic professionals led by Hitchcock Design Group to create a compelling riverfront concept that improves access to and along the river, and creates dynamic public places consistent with the city’s rich cultural history.

    As an integral part of the project, the team will consider modifications of the low-head dam to improve river water quality, safety, and navigation. The Redevelopment Commission expects the concept to be finished in September and introduced to the community during a series of public workshops and meetings.

Image courtesy of Iowa DNR

Opportunity Analysis

   The consultant team and Redevelopment Commission will follow a three phase process starting with the Opportunity Analysis, which will identify issues and the most promising strategies to meet the city’s aesthetic, recreational, environmental, and economic objectives for redeveloping the riverfront.

   These strategies will be based on the physical and natural characteristics of the project site, the available cultural and financial resources, and the interests of the public and related stakeholders.

   This phase concludes with an Opportunity Analysis Report that includes the results of a web-based survey, key stakeholder interviews, a market analysis, and a public workshop. 

Alternative Riverfront 


   Next, during the Alternative Riverfront Concepts phase, the consultant team will create consensus on an overall strategy, the most promising public sector improvements, and private sector redevelopment opportunities.


   Then, the consultant team will develop preliminary implementation recommendations and work closely with the Redevelopment Commission to refine the most promising concepts into a Preferred Riverfront Concept.


    They will also develop a Preliminary Implementation Memorandum that considers public policy, operational improvements, and capital improvement issues. This phase will include a public open house to showcase the Preferred Riverfront Concept and receive public comment.

Riverfront Design Team meets with the Columbus Redevelopment Commission (CRC)

On November 30th, Hitchcock Design Group presented their concept for the re-envisioned Riverfront to the Columbus Redevelopment Commission!     


Riverfront Concept Plan

   In the Riverfront Concept Plan phase, the consultant team will document and obtain approval of the finalized recommendations, including an Implementation Table outlining short term (3-5 year) capital and operational implementation projects, and Riverfront Improvement Guidelines detailing standards and best practices.  


   This information will be published in a final Riverfront Concept Report summarizing the consultant team’s recommendations.  When complete, they will present their final recommendations to the Columbus City Council, the Redevelopment Commission, and the public.

Public Open House

On November 8th, Hitchcock Design Group presented their concept for the re-envisioned Riverfront!  More than 75 people attended the open house to hear an informative presentation and ask questions.   


Riverfront team meets with regulatory agencies

The Columbus Riverfront team met with several regulatory agencies about the Riverfront project.  Folks from IDEM, DNR, and USACOE gathered on site to review the preliminary concepts, walk the site, and give their first impressions of the project and how it looks through ‘regulatory lenses’.   We had some great discussions, learned some new information, and are ready to move forward with completing the conceptual vision of the Riverfront!  Listed below are the agencies that were present at the meeting:


DNR – Division of Water

DNR – Fish & Wildlife

DNR – Division of Historic Preservation and Archeology

IDEM – Land Quality

IDEM – Water Quality

A Preliminary Concept is Chosen!

The design process for a project of this magnitude involves an abundance of research, collaboration, and input from stakeholders like you.  After months of research, Hitchcock Design Group has evaluated the collected data to develop a conceptual design for the east and west banks of the river.  


The sinuosity of this design concept mimics the smooth and flowing lines that define Mill Race Park, and uses a similar and readily available material pallet of limestone and concrete.  By aesthetically tying the Columbus Riverfront to Mill Race Park, Hitchcock Design Group is creating a cohesive aesthetic along the Riverfront, providing a seamless transition while traveling in and along the river.    

Be sure to check back frequently for new updates and sneak peaks as we develop this concept further! 

Community Workshop

We had a great turn out for our community workshop on April 5th and 6th!  Look in the Reports section below to view the presentation that was given at the workshop, and stay tuned for the Opportunity Analysis report that will launch us into the next phase of this exciting project!  





Low-head dams are 'dam dangerous'

The issue of public safety around dams is important to anyone directly or indirectly involved in recreational activities in rivers or streams, especially as many Hoosiers are visiting areas for water recreation during the summer months.


Thousands of these “low head” dams are scattered across our country including several in and near Columbus, and while the name implies low hazard/low impact, nothing could be further from the truth.  Low Head Dams have a quiet, inviting, picture postcard quality about them.  But the water going over these dams can rise and erupt into a violent, death trap.  These structures, generally less than 15 feet high, can create backflow currents and turbulence capable of producing disorientation, hypothermia, exhaustion, and brutal battering. The forces combine to create a practically inescapable circular trap for even the strongest, life jacket-clad swimmer.


Hoosiers and others planning water recreation in Indiana can access the Indiana DNR Interactive Low Head Dam Map. CLICK HERE to see where low-head dams are located throughout Indiana.  


WFYI Indianapolis has created a documentary on the dangers of low head dams. The documentary was filmed in partnership with IDHS, IDNR, the Indiana Silver Jackets, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Manchester University and the U.S. Geological Survey, among others. CLICK HERE to watch the full documentary, or CLICK HERE to see a one minute preview. 


CLICK HERE for tips on low-head dam safety!


Geomorphic Assessment Report 

The Indiana Silver Jackets, a multi-agency hazard and mitigation response team, specializes in the removal of obsolete low head dams and the effects this has on the river.  This report includes results from sediment mapping, hydraulic analysis, bathymetric mapping, and geomorphic assessment and analyzes the impact that dam removal would have on the Columbus Riverfront. 


Opportunity Analysis Report

After months of research, analysis, and collaboration, Hitchcock Design Group has released the Opportunity Analysis Report.  This report summarizes the findings of all research, workshops, and survey results, and analyzes those results to compile a list of possible opportunities for the Columbus Riverfront.



Bathymetric Survey

Officials were on the river Wednesday, March 29, 2017, conducting a BATHYMETRIC survey!   This unique survey will study the bottom of the East Fork of the White River, and show us exactly what the bottom of the river looks like – just like a topographic survey on land. 


The information gathered from the river bottom study will be used to create a HYDRAULIC MODEL of the river.   The HYDRALIC RIVER MODEL will show us what will happen if we MODIFY THE DAM, add ripples to the river, or something else altogether.


Check out ALL the pictures!

Check back at this site often for more UPDATES on the RIVERFRONT Project.  

ATTEND the Public Input Session on Wednesday, April 5th, 6-8pm to share your perspective, ideas, suggestions for Re-Imagining the Riverfront!


Exciting times ahead for the Columbus Riverfront!  


Contact information:

Heather Pope

Director of Redevelopment

Columbus Redevelopment Commission

Randy Royer

Lansdcape Architect / Design Team Lead

Hitchcock Design Group