May 9, 2014 10:56:03 AM
Officials say the sidewalk project connecting the Riverwalk to the Columbus Soccer Complex will be completed by the end of the year. It's been seven months since the renovations that turned the abandoned Old Highway 82 Bridge into a pedestrian walkway were completed. Currently, city officials are pondering what to do with the remaining parcel of city-owned land on The Island, which sits just south of the bridge.
The sidewalk is a physical manifestation of a symbolic link between two of the most successful public works projects the city has seen in decades.
If properly maintained and administered, both the soccer complex and the Riverwalk will be a healthy source of civic pride and recreation for generations of Columbus residents to come. The Old Highway 82 Bridge is both a pleasing complement to the Riverwalk complex and a reminder there is one additional component yet to be added. What will the city do with that seven-acre parcel on The Island that lies at the end of the bridge?
It is a matter that has attracted both advocates and skeptics alike.
Before we pass judgment on whether it is wise for the city to develop that parcel, it is fitting to consider what can be learned from the three projects in the area that preceded it.
In each case, although for different reasons, the Riverwalk, the Columbus Soccer Complex and the Old Highway 82 Bridge were met with skepticism. Certainly, there were missteps and miscalculations along the way. That is often the case with visionary projects.
Today, those critics are significantly less in number. Each of those facilities stand on merit and citizens have enjoyed the benefits.
What all three projects also have in common is that they were made possible only through the cooperative efforts of city, county and state entities. That sort of collaboration is, unfortunately, rare. But it does serve as an example of what can be achieved when different government entities work together to achieve a common goal.
We hope that the development of The Island follows a similar blueprint.
We also hope that the development of The Island, whatever it is, serves as a complement to the other successful projects we enjoy in the area.
Obviously, there is a threshold our leaders should be mindful of, too: There is a limit to what can be achieved through public facilities. The best of these projects not only serve the community's needs for recreation and entertainment, but also stimulate private enterprise as well.
We are hopeful that the plans for The Island achieves that goal, too.
Public money and the projects it funds can only go so far. Private investment is the next step.
We believe, with the right plan, The Island project can be the final piece of a public facility complex that will long be a source of pride for our community and an stimulus for privately-funded growth.