Ellis Square: A Big Hole in Festival Plans

Many of the people in Savannah for St. Patrick's Day have added an unexpected stop on their sight-seeing list.

Cindy Fallin from Florida said, "I've never seen anything like it!"

Tourists can't help but peer down at the two acre hole that will one day be Ellis Square and an underground parking garage.

"We were just walking by and saw that hole and we figured we'd look in there," said North Carolina visitor Joe Barnes.

It's okay to look, from one of the secured windows. But don't even think about trying to get any closer.

Fallin said, "They better be sober if they come around this thing."

"Yeah you don't want to fall down there, if you fall you'll really fall deep," added Barnes.

It's a 43-foot drop. No one wants that.

Bob Scanlon is the city's project manager. "It's a point of interest in the city, it's right next to City Market which is going to be a big party area, we are taking some precautions to make sure the area is secure."

They reinforced an eight-foot fence that surrounds the Ellis Square construction site. Workers also added additional fencing near the opening on Bryan Street. There's a surveillance camera overhead that monitors the site 24-7. And there will be a lot of police officers in that area this weekend.

Scanlon's best advise, "Party up above, there's nothing really going on down there."

The Ellis Square project won't be as much of a safety concern next St. Patrick's Day because it will be almost finished, and by St. Patrick's Day 2009 tourist will be able to take full advantage of the restored Ellis Square.

Reported by Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com