By Paul Minnis, The Republic

   Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc., the landscape architectural company that designed Mill Race Park, will create the master plan for downtown Columbus' possible ski lakes.

   During its monthly meeting Monday, City Redevelopment Commissioners accepted Irwin Sweeney Miller Foundation's $97,970 gift, which will pay for the work. 

   ISMF preferred the city use Van Valkenburgh's company, which is from Brooklyn, N.Y., due to the ski lakes' proximity to Mill Race. 

   "They want to make sure to have that continuity between the two," said Ed Curtin, the Redevelopment Commission's executive director.

   The commission is looking into building three ski lakes west of downtown, past the bridge and railroad tracks and north of Indiana 46.

   ISMF owns the empty land but probably would donate it if the ski lakes project comes about, commission President Tom Vujovich said. 

   ISMF already has donated from the ski lakes site 600,000 cubic yards of dirt that will be used to build four baseball fields downtown.

   Vujovich said Van Valkenburgh's firm will look at how best to lay out the ski lakes, but also at how to make sure the city's front door remains attractive if the ski lake idea falls through.

   Curtin has said ski teams from Indiana and Purdue University, which do not have water-ski facilities, have expressed interest in having their competitions in Columbus.

   In other business, Curtin updated the commission on the status of three-way, downtown liquor licenses created to help boost redevelopment efforts downtown.

   He said that of the five licenses initially available, three have been granted by the state to The Garage Pub & Grill, Bistro 310 and Tre Bicchieri. 

   Licenses were pending for The Fork and the future Brick House eatery. 

   Redevelopment commissioners plan to decide soon whether to ask the City Council for any more liquor licenses. 

   "We don't want to run out," Vujovich said.

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