COLUMBIA — Columbia’s Ward Reapportionment Committee met Wednesday to discuss two maps that would alter the boundaries of the First Ward.
The committee's purpose is to redraw ward lines to balance the populations of the wards after the 2010 census showed population variance among wards.
The first map, dubbed Trial A at the committee’s second meeting June 22, expands the First Ward east to include the Benton-Stephens Neighborhood and west to include apartment complexes beyond Stadium Boulevard. As proposed, the First Ward expansion would take territory away from the Second and Third wards.
The second map, Trial B, expands the First Ward northeast along Range Line Street, adding a part of the current Second Ward to its boundaries.
The committee favored Trial A and will present it at a July 14 public hearing, committee member Eugene Gerke said.
The perfect target population for each of the city's six wards would be 18,063, according to city planners who created the proposed maps for the committee. The Trial A proposal would add nearly 4,500 people to the First Ward, boosting its population to an estimated 19,141. It would reduce the Second Ward to about 18,403 residents. The other estimated ward populations would be:
- Third Ward: 17,723
- Fourth Ward: 17,820
- Fifth Ward: 17,184
- Sixth Ward: 18,229
The committee's main challenge is to increase the population of the First Ward and to reduce the number of people in the Second Ward, which grew faster than any other over the past 10 years. By expanding the First Ward's boundaries east and west, the committee hopes to keep together neighborhoods that are older and have similar infrastructure issues, Gerke said.
“One of the goals is the keep the neighborhood associations intact and not split neighborhood associations,” Gerke said. “Some are already split between wards, and we don’t want to split any more.”
The committee has until Sept. 15 to present a new ward map to the City Council.