COLUMBUS (AP) -- A makeover of the river that runs along the edge of Ohio State University's main campus has the potential to create a new campus destination for students and visitors, school officials say.
The nearly $7 million project that is restoring the Olentangy River's natural channel is part of a long range plan to make better use of the riverbank near Ohio State's medical center and football stadium.
The university hopes to use the area for more recreation along with environmental and other research.
"We've been squandering a great resource for far too long," Jay Kasey, Ohio State's senior vice president for administration and planning told The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/19vjWNV).
The city project to restore the river will add green space and wetlands. Another aim is to open the river to boaters by removing a dam and connecting new recreational areas with city trails.
Workers have planted willows and other plants to stabilize the riverbanks and removed invasive plants.
The idea is to allow the river to flow naturally, which should improve the water quality and attract fish and other wildlife. Project officials said they've already seen smallmouth bass return to the area.
The university's plan down the road is to replace parking lots along the river with green space.
The hope is that the area would be a center of campus life, much like the grassy Oval near the main library and other academic buildings.
Ohio State also hopes to move a road near the river and create more space for development near its medical center.
It also wants to use the river for environmental and other research, Kasey said. The university already has a 52-acre wetlands-research site along the river.
The university is considering tearing down St. John Arena and the adjacent French Field House to create a science and technology area, the newspaper reported.
Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com