COLUMBIA — The Downtown Leadership Council wrote a letter of support for the Columbia Housing Authority’s plans for streetscape improvements along Providence Road. The letter was presented to the City Council at its Feb. 6 meeting.
"The goal is to try to beautify the entrances into downtown as well as make overall improvements to the downtown area," said Phil Steinhaus, director of the Columbia Housing Authority, adding that this work should be done "in a planned and community-acceptable way, so you start getting some continuity throughout the whole area."
Steinhaus said the improvements are also intended to improve the safety of pedestrians in that area.
He gave a presentation at the leadership council's general board meeting in December, where members realized how similar the Providence streetscape proposal is to the Charrette Report, which calls for improvements to College Avenue.
Steinhaus said the Providence Road streetscape plan calls for a few specific changes:
- The green fence by Douglass High School would come down and a new landscaped sidewalk will be put in.
- The pedestrian overpass that crosses Providence Road to connect the J.W. "Blind" Boone Community Center to Douglass High School would be taken down.
- A pedestrian-activated traffic signal would be put in at a newly-constructed median on Providence Road between Douglass High School and the Columbia Housing Authority's family townhomes.
- Further landscaping would be installed along Providence Road.
The plan also might include a memorial for Beulah Ralph, an advocate for equality in Columbia Public Schools. She worked for the district for 58 years and died in 2010 at age 83.
*In addition, the Columbia Housing Authority and community groups might create an "African-American heritage trail" starting along Providence Road.
The Leadership Council said it strongly supports the Columbia Housing Authority's plan.