Historically, parks have been a place for city residents to gather their thoughts in a calm, outdoor setting. In Columbia, Flat Branch Park serves as an area of the city for both kids and adults alike to interact with each other or relax alone.
“I like to read the newspaper and catch up on my lunch break at Flat Branch Park,” Mike Yerkes said. “It’s quiet, aside from the occasional kids playing in the fountain.”
And while the tradition of catching up with a newspaper in the park has not dwindled, the method has changed.
Flat Branch Park offers all the amenities of a normal park such as a fountain, a children’s play area and plenty of benches. But what Flat Branch Park has that many parks don’t is free Wi-Fi that is provided for park-goers.
iZones, a local wireless internet service provider, sponsors the program for the city of Columbia, and the park sales tax was set up to fund the equipment. Anybody with a laptop and Wi-Fi card, which is typically built-in to newer machines, can access the Internet for free while enjoying the scenery that Flat Branch Park provides.
Flat Branch Park also serves as an area close to campus where MU students may use free Wi-Fi between classes.