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Committee to revisit city riverfront ideas

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mayor Danny Jones reactivated City Council's Riverfront Committee Monday, to find more ways to enjoy Charleston's two rivers -- the Kanawha and the Elk.

The committee has been idle for several years after helping implement some of the proposals of the landmark 2006 riverfront master plan, which was written by Sasaki Associates.

After construction of the canopy and stage and Haddad Park and the new overlook at the foot of Court Street, many people assumed the committee's work -- and the Sasaki plan -- was complete, said Councilwoman Mary Jean Davis, who was reappointed as chairwoman.

But during public meetings earlier this year by consultants who are writing a new comprehensive plan and downtown redevelopment plan for the city, the riverfront was a major theme, Davis said.

"When we got to these meetings, people across all ages talk about the Boulevard being more convenient to walk and bicycle," she said. "It's one of those things: you sit back and think, let's get people more involved in that. Obviously you need more money."

Davis had asked Jones to reactivate the committee about six months ago. But with the start of the Imagine Charleston planning process, they decided to wait, she said.

The group will probably meet in October, after the consultants present their initial findings. The initial focus will be on Kanawha Boulevard, she said -- better use for bicycles, pedestrians and jogging.

"There's no doubt we'll look at the Elk River as well. We'll have to look at the lower [Boulevard] sidewalk, and how to extend it under the Elk River Bridge.

"There are a lot of creative ideas out there, and it's about time," Davis said. "It's an exciting time for the riverfront."

Also Monday, council members:

* Reprogrammed $100,000 of federal block grant funds originally earmarked for Chamberlain Court. Half of the money -- $50,000 -- will be used to buy and install playground equipment at the new housing units at Washington Manor.

* Agreed to settle a 2008 lawsuit filed against the city by Robert W. Stack. City Attorney Paul Ellis said Stack was injured in a Jan. 3, 2007, traffic accident with a police officer. "It was our fault," Ellis said. The $38,500 settlement was reached through mediation. "The demand was over $100,000." 

Reach Jim Balow at balow@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.


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