COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Scioto Mile Fountain at Bicentennial Park is set to get a $15 million makeover, and with renovation construction likely to take an entire year, it will also be out of commission for the summer 2023 season. 

The Downtown Commission, which reviews city project applications, voted unanimously Tuesday to move forward with a renovation proposal for the popular fountain that includes an entirely new fountain system, additional seating and shaded areas, and dedicated parking plots for two food truck vendors. 

Construction is slated to begin before this summer and should finish by May 2024. 

City, private firm partners again

Bicentennial Park is owned by the city, but it is under a design and construction agreement with private urban planning firm Columbus Downtown Development Corporation (CDDC) for rehabbing the fountain. 

CDDC oversaw the original build of the fountain, which opened in 2011, and serves as the project executive, President Amy Taylor said. Taylor called the fountain an “iconic image” of Columbus. 

“You see families from all around our community really utilizing this asset, and like all assets, like all fountains, it has a life cycle,” she said. “We are not just going to go underground and fix the jets and the pipes. We are going to take a look, so our new design can really meet the needs of the community.”

After more than 10 years, architect Christian Lynn told commission members Tuesday those needs include making it more safe and accessible, as well as better-prepared for year-round use. Lynn works for AECOM, the design and engineer lead for the project. 

In October, Columbus City Council voted to allocate $7.5 million — half of the total construction costs. CDDC will foot the rest of the $15 million bill.

Fountain to look different, in different seasons

The proposal details some Bicentennial Park elements that will remain — the café and restrooms will stay the same, the present blossoms and halos will be reincorporated. Other features will be different come 2024. 

A rendering of proposed renovations to the Scioto Mile Fountain. (Courtesy Photo/CDDC)

In the summer, lights and water streams will sync to music. In the off-season months, spherical sculptures will be set over the jets for non-water light shows. 

Plans also add an area safe for young children, as well as new stairs and new benches, according to proposal documents.

Closed for parts of 2023, 2024 as fountain undergoes renovations

“We really look forward to folks coming back downtown to go to the Scioto Mile in 2024, but we know that families really rely on that as an amenity,” Taylor said. 

Once construction starts, the fountain will close to the public until construction is done. To account for the closure this summer, the city will run additional programming at Dorrian Green Park near COSI and extend the hours at Dodge Park Pool, Taylor said. 

Riverfront festivals along and around the Scioto Mile will go on as usual. The park restaurant, Milestone 229, will also still be serving lunch and dinner, according to Taylor.