Planned conservation center won't cost city

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 4:38 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 5, 2009

COLUMBIA — A children's fishing pond, a "Follow the Water" trail, rain gardens and other native plantings are among the green features included in preliminary designs for a new $5 million regional office of the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The Conservation Department recently completed early plans for the new Columbia Regional Office and Community Conservation Center.  The facility will be part of the Gans Creek Recreation Area, which is still in the planning stages and eventually will be part of the city's new southeast regional park.


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The facility will include a new two-story building for department staff. Landscaping plans call for a substantial amount of native grasses, perennials and shrubs including switchgrass, bluestem, prairie dropseed, aromatic sumac, blackhaw viburnum and New Jersey tea. Parking lots will be surrounded by rain gardens that will filter and clean storm runoff before it enters a downstream fishing pond for children.

A one-third mile "Follow the Water" trail will highlight the treatment of the development’s water as it flows to the pond. The trail also will include a boardwalk that will give visitors the opportunity to view a wetlands area from above.

The Conservation Department needs a new regional center, said Jacob Careaga, design and development chief for the department, because “the facility that we’re in right now is fairly old and doesn’t really serve our needs or the public’s needs very well.”

The center will be built on 18 acres the city is leasing to the Conservation Department. Because the lease agreement states that the site planning and location of structures must be agreed upon by both the city and the department, a report was presented to the City Council for review on Monday.

The entire facility will be will built and operated by the Conservation Department; it will have no impact on the city's budget.

According to the project schedule submitted to the council, plans are in the design development phase. Bidding is set to begin in July, although everything is tentative at this point. It could be as late as September before the design is finished.

In order to remain “green” throughout the building process, the entire facility has been planned and designed to cause minimal disturbance to the area. The goal is to preserve native areas and minimize paved surfaces.

“We hope to show citizens a pragmatic approach to green building and low impact design,” Careaga said.

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Ray Shapiro May 5, 2009 | 2:30 a.m.

For 5 million dollars, conservation department staff can live with me and I'll let the kids fish in my backyard.
I will also personally drive anyone who wants to visit, smell and tour our local sewer treatment plant. I am also in walking/cycling distance to Stephens Lake Park, which should satisfy anyone's curiosity of what a muddy field feels like.
I'll even throw in a Long Island iced tea instead of that New Jersey krap mentioned in the article.
(Heck, for 5 million bucks a guy can dream, can't he?)

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