COLUMBIA — Stakeholders fell short of a compromise Wednesday in what became the last of the public meetings concerning the route of the Scott’s Branch Trail.
The issue centered around which route the trail will take to connect the east side of Bonnie View Park and the Scott Boulevard Pedway and, in turn, the MKT Nature and Fitness Trail.
The purpose of the meetings was to get all of the opinions in the open, said Fourth Ward Councilman Daryl Dudley, who organized the meetings. The June 22 meeting has been canceled because Dudley said nothing new would be discussed.
City staff has proposed two plans. One would connect the Scott’s Branch Trail with the Dublin Park Trail by going through property owned by the Columbia Audubon Society. The other would avoid Audubon property by running the trail down Dublin Avenue to Dublin Park.
Resident Libby Gill opposed any trail through Audubon property.
“Do we have to pave every single inch of paradise?” Gill said. “To intrude into it seems repugnant. Let’s leave it alone.”
Dudley said he will consider the opinions from the meeting and will offer his suggestions to the Columbia City Council but emphasized he has but one of seven votes.
Dudley plans to meet with the Audubon Society, Bray Avenue residents and the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department before the council votes on the issue July 18. That meeting has not yet been scheduled.
Howard Hinkel, president of the Columbia Audubon Society, said the Audubon Board of Directors requested he appoint a small number of representatives to discuss and negotiate a potential trail through the southeast corner of Audubon property to allow entrance or exit at Cunningham Road. This would eliminate the use of a sidewalk on Bray Avenue and make the trail accessible to more people, Hinkel said.
The Bray Avenue residents in attendance opposed any trail behind their houses.
Karl Kruse, chair of the PedNet Coalition Board of Directors, said he walked the land under contention and was impressed by the “insignificant piece of property under consideration.”
He commended the Audubon Society for its willingness to discuss the potential trail.
“We’re moving in the right direction; we just need to move further,” Kruse said.