It seems that the winter from Hades is finally over. We will probably not have another freeze for many months, the tornadoes have moved on (cross your fingers), and the monsoons have dissipated — for now.
It is time to think of walks in the sun and cool drinks on the porch. Chris has been taking our doggie-daughters on adventures around the block. They return with “tails” of feisty cats and a sinkhole that deepens by the minute. I expect to see a visitor from China pop out of that chasm any day now.
For those who venture a bit farther from home, a stroll on the recently renovated “bridge to nowhere” might be fun. The bridge crosses the Tombigbee River near the Columbus Riverwalk. It was renovated at a cost of $2.5 million, funded by a grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the city, county, and Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Of course, when you reach the other side you are greeted with, well, nothing but blight. That’s quite a disappointment. We really need to create some sort of enticement, encouraging people to venture further onto “The Island.”
Perhaps we should start with the name. Can’t we come up with something more original than “The Island”? Almost all the houses here have names. It shouldn’t be too difficult. We could go with something biblical, like “The Garden of Eden 2.0,” or historical like “No Civil War Battles Were Fought Here,” making it sound safe.
The newly-named bit of land will also need a mysterious story. NBC News reports that Italian authorities are putting the island of Poveglia on sale. A tiny deposit of $20,000 or so will get you this piece of haunted property near Venice. Its history includes plague victims and a horrific mental institution boasting some very questionable medical experiments on the inmates. The eerie history of Poveglia is part of its charm.
We could learn from Italy. Columbus is rich in ghosts. Surely we could lure a few across the bridge to play host to tourists. Although there are no famous stories of shocking murders or colorful characters, we could certainly generate a few. After all, everyone knows that Southerners are imaginative storytellers.
The Island has been studied and scrutinized. The consensus is that the property, although rather unsightly now, has the potential to be attractive and valuable. It could be a lovely spot for gift shops and restaurants, perhaps a bed and breakfast, or an amusement park.
But, how could that happen? Most of the property is privately owned. Only a seven-acre parcel is owned by the city. The rest is mostly industrial, being used in ways that are not inviting. A lot of money would have to change hands for the city, or the county, to repurpose that land. I suppose for now we should be happy to walk across the lovely span, dreaming about what might, someday, blossom on the nameless island.
A ton of money was spent on the project. I wish some funds might have gone to the ever-growing sinkhole on my block. If it gets any deeper, we will have to take a few lessons in Chinese. The first thing I will learn to say is, “Welcome to The Friendly City. We have a nice island for sale.”
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.