Columbia's 'Bloom' takes second in national contest

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 | 2:36 p.m. CDT; updated 3:23 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 15, 2008

COLUMBIA — Columbia took second place in the America in Bloom program, falling only 5.5 points behind Fayetteville, Ark., in the 50,001to 100,000 population category.

The competition judged communities based on how well they utilized the resources available to a community in making it appealing, said Leigh Britt, Columbia's volunteer coordinator.

Columbia was recognized for its community involvement.

"Throughout the tour, the judges were continually impressed with the high degree of recognition that the city has when it comes to seeking public input and providing mechanisms for both corporate and citizen sectors to get involved in any number of projects," the judges reported in a city news release.

The America in Bloom program matched communities by population and evaluated them based on the communities' floral displays, urban forestry, landscaped areas, turf and ground cover, tidiness, environmental awareness, heritage conservation and community involvement.

Columbia doesn't have plans to compete again in 2009, Britt said. The door remains open, however, to compete again at a later date.

The decision to not compete in 2009 came after reviewing the judges' comments, which listed several improvements Columbia could make and can be found here. Some of the listed improvements include places where murals could be added and that more work could be done to beautify alleyways downtown.

Britt also said the competition was an "intense investment," adding that the amount of time and volunteers needed for this year's competition will play a part in Columbia's decision to compete again.

Also Britt said the city would want to show judges new improvements, such as the new City Hall, which won't be finished in a year.

A Missourian blog detailing where the judges visited this summer can be found here.

Thirty communities participated in the competition's seventh edition. This was Columbia's first year.

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