Commission seeks more details before signing riverfront contract

The city of Columbus is considering paying up to $250,000 to figure out what to do with the riverfront area, including the dam in the East Fork White River, People Trails in the¬†vicinityand the former city dump¬†— a Superfund site.

The city’s consultant, Core Planning, recommended to the Columbus Redevelopment Commission yesterday that the agency begin negotiating to hire Hitchcock Design Group. Consultant Karen Valiquett, with Core Planning, said that Hitchcock’s proposal was the most expensive of the five companies who submitted proposals, but it also was the most complete and showed the broadest number of partner agencies.

Valiquett said the Hitchcock proposal was between $223,000 and $250,000 dollars. The next highest proposal was $180 thousand. The scope of the work would cover the initial design of a riverfront project, Valiquett said. She expected to negotiate down the cost of the contract as the city clarified the work it wants done.

The company was recommended by a committee including various stakeholders on the riverfront project.

Once the initial design phase is complete, the city could look at a menu of options on which portions it would like to proceed with, she said.

Redevelopment Commission Chairwoman Sarah Cannon said she was uncomfortable voting to approve a resolution authorizing a contract without more details on the cost and the scope of the work. The commission agreed to hold off on the approval and tabled discussion of the contract.

In other business, the redevelopment commission approved a $36,000 contract with Jayne Farber to help shepherd various projects through the development process. The contract was approved at the last commission meeting, but changes were made to more directly outline the work Farber would do and the projects she would work on.

Dave Jones, a former parks board member, questioned whether the commission could pay Farber out of money from the city’s tax increment financing district. He said he believed it would be a felony to do so.