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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — Columbus takes a small step toward getting the public involved in the redevelopment of what is known as the “Island.”

At the request of a committee that’s been studying possible redevelopment options for a year, the City Council Tuesday night put a six-month moratorium on rental fees and insurance requirements for use of the recently renovated river bridge that leads from the Riverwalk to the Island area.

The insurance requirement forced people renting the bridge for weddings, parties or other events to get a $1 million liability policy that cost about $750. Throw in $1,000 rental costs and other fees and renters were having to fork over well over $1,000.

The committee, acting on recommendations from a review by a TVA economic development team, said those costs are discouraging use which is in turn not attracting enough attention to the Island area or giving potential developers any incentive to consider commercial or residential options there.

The council also agreed to let the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority turn about three of more than five acres owned by the city on the west side of the bridge into a passive park until a broader redevelopment plan can be put together.

The passive park would include handicapped access to the riverfront and a boardwalk.

That would make the area more appealing to potential developers. And finally, the Council will hold a May 6 public hearing to hear ideas from the public about what they might like to see one day happen to the area.

The city is establishing a redevelopment authority that would work as a public-private partnership to target the area for rehabilitation and new projects.

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