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City Council votes to continue Catfish Alley improvements


Jeff Clark



Improvements on one of Columbus' most famous streets will continue as additional funding has been made available for the project. The Columbus City Council recently voted to allot $25,000 for the improvements of Catfish Alley, which is Fourth Street South between College Street and Main Street. The money for the project will come from remaining general obligation bond funds used for paving streets in the city's six wards. 


"Catfish Alley is in my ward and I supported this motion," Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem said Monday. "The street has been re-paved and the parking lot has been re-paved. This will be used to improve the sidewalks and other things. The sidewalks haven't been improved in 40-to-50 years. I'm glad the council voted unanimously to support this project." 


Catfish Alley became a contentious issue when in August, a group of Sallie Mae Jones' family members petitioned the city to change the name of Fourth Street South to Sallie Mae Jones Catfish Alley. Jones was an African American business owner who had a longtime presence in Catfish Alley and grandmother of Karriem. The request to change the name was withdrawn by the family after facing opposition from the council and some citizens. In September, Columbus Mayor Robert Smith and Karriem formed a committee to discuss honoring those who have made significant impacts on Catfish Alley and its history. 


Work on Catfish Alley began recently when six parking spots on the one-block street were removed for the addition of flower beds. 


"By the end of the year, we hope to have the whole street in better shape," Karriem said. "We hope to improve the lighting and add some benches and flower beds and some new garbage cans." 


According to Columbus Chief Financial Officer Mike Bernsen, the money will be allocated from the "Mayor's special projects," or "Ward M." Bernsen said the bond money can be used for any infrastructure projects in the city. All bond money must be spent by Nov. 29, Bernsen said.




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