COLUMBIA — North Central Columbia resident Pat Fowler said she felt defeated when she read an e-mail from a Columbia School Board member at 5 a.m. Tuesday.
The board had approved plans for constructing a parking lot at the Jefferson Junior High School Monday night. The item was on the consent agenda and was passed without any discussion.
The decision came as a surprise to Fowler, a member of the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association. She lives adjacent to the planned parking lot, which she said she believes could be a potential flood hazard to her property.
“I thought I did my homework before I bought my house, but now I realize how unprepared I was,” Fowler said.
Fowler said she plans to speak to the City Council on Monday about how the parking lot plan will affect her property. But she also plans to discuss the overarching problem of Columbia's sewer and storm water systems.
At its Tuesday night board meeting, the neighborhood association elected member Dan Cullimore to speak on behalf of the association. Fowler will not speak at the meeting as a representative of the neighborhood association.
Others present at the meeting expressed surprise at the school board's decision.
“There are so many other things they could have done with this land,” said Mike Martin, who was also present at the association's meeting.
The new parking lot presents a significant change of use for the land, which used to be occupied by a shoe shop, Martin said.
If the construction goes forward as planned, the formerly absorbent surface will be replaced by one less capable of absorbing water. The new parking lot would also have a tilt, which could flood Fowler's property when it rains.
Fowler said she has done extensive research on the state of the sewer and storm water system and has found that the issue affects all of Columbia’s historic neighborhoods. She said she plans to contact other neighborhood associations to work out a solution.
The next City Council meeting is 7 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers, 701 E. Broadway.