Main Street Columbus tackles 100,000 in downtown beautification efforts

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Beginning June 18, Main Street Columbus will bring $100,000 worth of beautification projects to downtown.

Barbara Bigelow, executive director of Main Street Columbus, told The Dispatch on Thursday that the organization is planning three beautification projects since 2022 that will further Main Street’s mission of keeping downtown vibrant.

“The main focus is to bring people downtown to support our businesses here,” she said. “We just strive to help our entire downtown do better and keep things nice for our residents (and) our visitors.”

Bigelow said the funds for the beautification projects come from an American Rescue Plan Act grant awarded by the state Legislature this session.

The first project will revitalize Leadership Plaza, the small park adjacent to Hollyhocks at the corner of Fifth Street South and College Street.

“It hasn’t been updated in maybe 35 to 40 years,” Bigelow said. “We just want to give it a facelift.”

The square’s facelift will consist of replacing the sidewalk where tree roots have caused it to buckle, tearing down the trellis that currently stands and replacing it with a new pavilion designed with local details in mind.

“The pavilion is designed after historic homes and historic sites in Southside, so it will have a historic feel,” she said.

In addition to the updated plaza, a new 20-by-50-foot mural will also be installed on the empty wall overlooking the city parking lot next to Catfish Alley.

The mural, Bigelow said, will be an illustrated representation of a 1905 Columbus postcard showing street cars on Main Street, painted by West Point artist Deborah Mansfield.

Mansfield, who also painted the mural at the Columbus Light and Water building, said she is looking forward to taking on the project.

“Murals really add such a personal touch to a city and make it unique,” ​​Mansfield said. “It attracts people. I think the more murals the better, and I’m happy to do them.”

The third project is an updated marketing campaign to add an audio component to the self-guided historic walking tour of downtown Columbus.

The walking tour was first launched in 2021 as a way to promote places of historic interest downtown and all buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The only problem, Bigelow told The Dispatch Thursday, is that hikers will have to read the information while viewing the historic sites.

“Now you can read it on your phone or print it, but we want it where you can listen to it and look at the buildings without having to read it,” she said.

On June 18, Main Street Columbus will kick off the beautification projects with a celebration at Leadership Plaza at 10:30 a.m. along with members of the statewide organization Main Street Mississippi and local state legislators. Bigelow said the event is free and open to the public.

McRae is a general assignment and education reporter for The Dispatch.

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