Spraygrounds, baseball field improvements suggested for Douglass Park

Monday, November 24, 2008 | 10:20 p.m. CST; updated 7:34 a.m. CST, Tuesday, November 25, 2008
From right, recreation specialist and Vice President of Douglass Neighborhood Association Bill Thompson, Parks and Recreation Director Mike Griggs and senior parks planner Michael Snyder discuss renovations to Douglass Park Monday evening in a conference room at the Armory Sports Center in Columbia.

COLUMBIA — On Monday night, the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department held an informal meeting regarding future improvements to Douglass Park. 

Members of the department worked with community leaders to iron out priorities for several additions and renovations to the park. There was a feeling of camaraderie at the meeting, as the few attendees present were familiar with the department members because they were involved with the plan’s formation.

Mike Griggs, manager of park services, and Mike Snyder, senior park planner, explained their tentative plan to the community leaders and then asked for feedback in order to bring a prioritized plan to the City Council.

Those present included: Cameron Cross, recreation supervisor; Bill Thomson, recreation specialist and vice president of the Douglass Neighborhood Association; John Kelly, head of baseball at the Douglass Athletics Association; and police Officer Mike Hayes, the area neighborhood watch adviser.

The department plans to adding water spraygrounds attached to the Douglass Family Aquatic Center, similar to the spraygrounds found at Stephens Lake Park and Flatbranch Park. The Douglass spraygrounds would be connected to the pool, but would be accessible at hours that the pool is not, Snyder said.

"That’s the beauty of a sprayground," he said. "Since it has no standing water, there is no need for a lifeguard."

The four attendees were happy with the plans for the spraygrounds area but had suggestions regarding improvements planned for the baseball/softball field.

The department suggested improving the field by “grading” it to correct the slope, fixing the concrete behind the backstop, adding a backfield fence, painting the dugouts, adding a new scoreboard and pouring a concrete floor for the batting cages.

The leaders said a new scoreboard was less important than grading the field. Instead of a backfield fence, Cross suggested extending the sideline fences would be more important. "We don’t want people riding bikes across the field," he said.

Cross said the backfield fence would interfere with other sports that share the field with the baseball league. Griggs suggested a portable fence as another option.

The department also discussed plans of expanding an already existing storage shed and bathroom, but the attendees suggested it should be a lower priority than grading the field.

Kelly said the shed currently served its purpose and doesn't need much work. “If I had to give something up, it would be working on that,” he said.

The department also plans to widen pre-existing concrete paths so maintenance and organizers’ vehicles can easily access the park.

Attendees stressed that lights should be added and trees be trimmed up for security reasons.

According to Griggs, the improvement project has a budget of $255,000. The budget includes $125,000 in Community Development Block Grants and the rest comes from the Parks Sales Tax of 2005.

With the public’s input, the Parks and Recreation Department will calculate cost estimates and create a final plan to submit to the City Council on Dec. 15, Griggs said. Then on Jan. 5, the council will hold its own public hearing, and will vote on the plan.

“We try to do a good job and have a public process to take care of the public’s concerns," Snyder said. "That’s why we are holding this meeting.”

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Charles Dudley Jr November 25, 2008 | 7:23 a.m.

So how is all of this improvement at tax payer expense going to cut the crime rates in that entire area?

Are they going to offer criminals cold showers to cool down their hot blood or something?

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand November 25, 2008 | 7:51 a.m.

And of course this neighborhood will complain -- as they have in the past -- about having to pay to use some of these facilities.

(Report Comment)
Jason Entermyer November 25, 2008 | 8:51 a.m.

You must be the most miserable dude in Columbia. I have read your comments and you are rarely positive or see the good in anything. As someone that lives and works in this neighborhood I see the efforts of those that do good things in the parks. The Douglass baseball program has grown significantly over the past years to the point where they need more fields to accommodate players. Last year, the pool attendance went up 55%. If you want the facts, check out the park department's blog and see for yourself. Have a happy thanksgiving!

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr November 25, 2008 | 10:09 a.m.

Jason Entermyer far from miserable but I do not sugar coat and caramel candy things as alot do in life.

Wasn't it just a few weeks ago some guy was shot dead in that same park you praise and raise up. Wasn't it this last summer after a rally or something in that same park you raise up here that some kid up near Jeff Jr whipped out a shotgun and peppered a crowd of kids where one young girl had shot all in her legs?

How many crime reports have been associated with that park over the last 5 years alone?

My view is instead of making that park so cutsie tootsie why not get the crime under control first and foremost so it will be safe for those things the city wants to do.

Until they concentrate on that first and foremost,all of those new things being put in place are about as good pissing into a wind storm when it comes to combating the crime rate in that area.

Don't blame the messenger but look at those ignoring the obvious crime related reports associated with that area.

(Report Comment)
Radley Pelson November 25, 2008 | 10:45 a.m.
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Ray Shapiro November 25, 2008 | 11:23 a.m.

When Knowle's closed their store down around 5 years back, one reason given was that shoplifting and employees being "hassled" by local customers/residents changed the owners' desire to "serve" that community. The Knowles family shifted their control of the business to a non-family management team and they decided to close down that store. The "crime" and "hassles" at the Gerbes at Broadway store increased and for the first time, security guards were hired to police the store.
Recently the same thing has happened at the Gerbes on Paris, which also had to hire a security guard to address the change in customers. There's also a CPD "kiosk satellite" set up in the Gerbe's parking lot area.
I would suggest that Mike Hood work with Bill Watkins and the city council to channel some money over to CPD so that there will be an on-site police presence at this "bad reputation" park, before additional monies are spent on "park perks." Security and safety of our parks should always be priority number one instead of how "pretty" they look on paper and to the occasional out of town visitor.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr November 25, 2008 | 11:26 a.m.

Radley Pelson perfect punctuation is not required on the internet.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand November 25, 2008 | 11:45 a.m.

What arrogance! This neighborhood always has its hand out and gets indignant whenever someone suggests that they stop soiling where they sleep. Instead of complaining that it's too expensive for their kids to go to the pool, how about stop having kids they can't afford? And instead of protests -- must be nice to have all of that free time when you're on the public dole -- how about mentoring the neighborhood's young criminals so they can turn their lives around?

(Report Comment)
Jason Entermyer November 25, 2008 | 1:20 p.m.

I think you mean Nowells as in the former grocery store. I'm guessing your remaining comments have about the same degree of knowledge. There was nothing about kids harrassing customers or shoplifting. Articles were all about lack of business and not being able to compete with Gerbes, HY-Vee and the Wal-Mart Supercenters. Don't use your bias as facts especially when you can't even get the store name right. PS. The Nowells also sold their last store to one of their long time manager's who operated it on Keene St, prior to it becoming Patricias.

(Report Comment)
Jason Entermyer November 25, 2008 | 1:31 p.m.
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Ayn Rand November 25, 2008 | 1:48 p.m.
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Jason Entermyer November 25, 2008 | 2:16 p.m.
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Charles Dudley Jr November 25, 2008 | 2:23 p.m.

Correct it is the whole area and installing cutsie tootsie goodies in that park is not going to help take a bite out of the crime in that area by far.

Looking at redistributing money so it will make a difference will.

Instead of attacking people who post why not stick to the issues and attack the issue itself as the posting policy clearly states.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand November 25, 2008 | 2:47 p.m.

Jason, where did I say that only blacks live in that neighborhood and that only blacks are having kids they can't afford? Caught ya. You need to drop the worn-out stereotypes and move on.

So let's move to the west and take a look at West Boulevard Elementary, where we've been spending roughly twice as much per student than other district elementaries, with dismal results. Yet another example of why we as a society need to stop throwing money at problems and instead demand that the culprits take responsibility -- as Troy Hogg at Benton just did.

(Report Comment)
Jake Sherlock November 25, 2008 | 3:12 p.m.

OK folks, let's keep the name-calling and personal attacks out of it. We have a viable going here -- can't we keep it going without stooping to the petty stuff?

I'm removing the more inflammatory comments. Click the "report comment" button if you feel I missed any.


Jake Sherlock

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro November 25, 2008 | 4:45 p.m.

Thanks for correcting my spelling of Nowell's. I speak to my neighbors more than I write, and I've never had the need to type out Nowell's until now. I stand by the "jist" of my original posting and it was you who focused on "community kids" as the culprits. For Nowells and Gerbes, both of who I have worked for, my knowledge is based on personal observations, working with the subsequent security guards and police and speaking with store owners and Nowell's family members. Store owners like to keep things "politically correct" and "articles" don't always tell the whole story. I don't consider "first hand experience" as a bias. I do, however, wonder about people who don't address crime in Columbia and why that should be our first priority before spending more money on criminally infested recreational areas, such as Douglass Park.
Make sure you spend that $1.00 for a dip in the Douglass pool, next summer.
Don't swallow any of the water and watch out for any bullets flying overhead.

(Report Comment)
kenya kimbrough December 15, 2008 | 2:41 p.m.

Tsk,'s amazing how backwards the mentality of people with their trashy comments calling the people in this community criminals. These citizens are taxpayers just like anyone else despite the ridiculous belief system of people in Columbia. They are not asking for a handout. They don't want their tax payers dollars to build your gutters. It's the unfortunate stupidity of people who make "bullets at Douglass Park" comments that keep Columbia from progressing. How can a city with a University have some of the most stupid people in Missouri living within? Mind boggling....

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand December 15, 2008 | 3:02 p.m.

Kenya, it's a fact (e.g., via the police blotter) that the neighborhoods around Douglass are some of the most crime-ridden. These neighborhoods also have a high percentage of people living in public housing and on other forms of public assistance. Good grief! They even whine that it costs too much to use the pool.

You can kid yourself all you want, but the Douglass-area neighborhoods take more than they give.

(Report Comment)

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