Financing Coming Together for Columbus Riverfront

Thu March 15, 2007 - Midwest Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) The city and American Electric Power (AEP) each pledged $10 million toward construction of a riverfront park that was first proposed approximately five years ago.

The goal is to have the park, which will be built downtown along the Scioto River, finished for the city’s bicentennial in 2012.

Construction is scheduled to commence in spring 2008, although city and corporate donors must raise an additional $15 million to complete the Scioto Mile project.

Mayor Michael Coleman and Michael Morris, AEP’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, announced the financial pledges Feb. 19 at the Columbus-based utility’s headquarters.

The mayor unveiled his plan for the riverfront park when he announced a downtown development initiative in April 2002. The plan hadn’t received funding since then because of a tight city budget, but finances have improved, Coleman said.

Other financial commitments include $2.2 million in federal money and $1 million pledged by the state, said Amy Taylor, spokeswoman of the Columbus Downtown Development Corp., which will manage the project.

The $23.2 million in hand will be enough to begin work next year on the park’s tree-lined promenade, which will have sculptures and fountains, said Dale Heydlauff, an AEP vice president who will work on the project.

AEP will help oversee construction drawings and applications for environmental permits.

AEP Spokesman Pat Hemlepp said the contribution comes from company profits through the American Electric Power Foundation, the utility’s charitable arm.

“Some corporations sponsor pro teams. We feel this is the right thing to do. Our headquarters are located right along the river. It made sense to us,” Hemlepp said.

Morris said he has talked to the city about sponsoring the park, possibly including naming rights.

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