COLUMBIA — Six new GetAbout Columbia projects — four trail connections and two sidewalks — went before the City Council on Monday and caused much discussion.
GetAbout, a federally financed program designed to promote nonmotorized transportation, has proposed a sidewalk on the north side of Broadway from Fairview Road to Stadium Boulevard and a sidewalk on the east side of Providence Road from Blue Ridge Road to Smiley Lane. The council unanimously approved both projects on Monday following brief public hearings.
The council also made decisions regarding the MKT Connector Projects at Garth Extension Trail, Katy Place Trail, Forum/Katy Lane and Wilson's Trail. After public discussion, the council voted to move ahead on the Garth Extension Trail, making it a priority among the connector projects, and also asked for a report on a new design for the Wilson Trail. The council asked that GetAbout wait and see what funds are left before beginning projects at the Katy Place Trail and the connection at Forum Boulevard and Katy Lane.
GetAbout Director Ted Curtis said the trail connections are designed to make the MKT Nature/Fitness Trail more accessible through neighborhoods. Total construction costs for the four walkways is estimated at $1.5 million, which is $700,000 more than was originally slated.
Public Works Director John Glascock estimated that another $1 million would be necessary to complete all the projects. He said that thus far, GetAbout projects involving intersections have cost more than originally estimated.
The Stadium Boulevard sidewalk, the Garth Extension Trail and Wilson's Trail roused the most public comment during Monday's meeting.
Lisa Gromer, who owns Kids Depot Preschool, was concerned that the Stadium Boulevard and Forum Road sidewalk project would affect her business.
"Previous construction has affected the playground and the drop-off area (at the preschool)," Gromer said. "If I lose even one child (as a client), that results in a loss of $176,000 in income for myself and my staff."
Regarding the Garth Extension Trail, most residents were originally opposed to the extension. After several meetings, city staff drafted an alternative alignment for the trail that would go through SAE fraternity property. Although three people spoke in support of this new plan, Catey Terry maintained her opposition to it.
"It's on our corner, and I'm opposed because the neighborhood is so connected already," Terry said. "There are several entrances already, and they aren't invasive."
Residents also raised concern that the Garth Extension Trail would hurt the privacy and safety of University Village housing on Providence Road.
Most of the discussion during the public hearing was about the plan for the Wilson's Trail. More than 10 people spoke in support of the trail, while five spoke against it. The five in opposition said the expansion of the trail into the Lakewood Rail neighborhood would negatively affect both privacy and property values.
James Dean Abrams of Wilson's Fitness proposed the trail change course altogether to avoid the Lakewood Rail neighborhood by coming down Forum Boulevard and crossing a levy. But he did point out that this new route could be potentially dangerous because of high speed limits on the road. He also said many Lakewood residents attend Wilson's Fitness, and the alternate route would make it easier for those members to get to the health club.
City Council members voted to get a report on the financial breakdown of this new plan. Glascock said that the new plan might save the city money.
Missourian reporter Alex Lundy contributed to this report.