Columbia hopes to build new park near Battle High School

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 | 6:09 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — A proposal to spend nearly $700,000 on parkland near Battle High School was presented to City Council and will be up for a final vote on Dec. 5.

The proposal calls for paying $681,280 to St. Charles Road Development LLC, according to a report to the council from Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hood. The proposed amount includes $21,000 per acre for the 30.18-acre tract, plus $47,500 to cover half the cost of extending a sewer line to the property.


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The purchase price comes from an independent third-party appraiser. The amount falls between an appraisal of $14,600 per acre that was done for the city and a price of $29,670 per acre suggested by an appraiser for the owner.

If the council approves, the purchase wouldn't be final until July.

Battle High School is expected to open in northeast Columbia in 2013 and be followed by an elementary school in 2015. Development of the park, however, doesn't have a definitive timetable. 

Hood described the process as one that begins with prior planning in the long-range master plan.

"The master plan identifies needs for the area, such as land and facilities," Hood said. This northeast area was identified as one that needed more parkland in the 2002 master plan.

"Next, the land has to actually be acquired, which can take up to three years. A plan has to then be created so funds and resources can then be developed and found," Hood said.

The money for the project will come from proceeds of a parks sales tax that was approved by voters in 2005, according to Hood's report.

The council in January 2008 directed staff to begin talks about developing a park in conjunction with the new high school.

Hood said that, because of other commitments to the city promised in a 2010 parks ballot issue, the planning and development stage on the new park won't happen for another four to six years. Parks are built in phases, depending on factors such as park use and need, which could cause the process to take upward of 20 years.

Until the park is developed, it will be maintained as green space.

Robert Wolverton, who works with St. Charles Road Development LLC, said the deal is reasonable for both parties. 

"The price includes all utility, planning and zoning costs," Wolverton said.

He thinks there is a good chance the city will go ahead and sign the contract because the city has had a longstanding policy of trying to develop parks near schools. Wolverton referenced Cosmo-Bethel Park, which is near both Gentry Middle School and Rock Bridge High School, as a prime example.

The new park would be comparable in size to the 40-acre Cosmo-Bethel, to the 30-acre Jay Dix Station on Scott Boulevard and to the 27-acre Fairview Park, which is near Fairview Elementary School.

Jonathan Sessions, a member of both the Columbia Board of Education and the city's Comprehensive Plan Task Force, said he supports any new green public space that will improve "quality of life."

He believes that northeast Columbia is one of the more opportune and underdeveloped areas of the city.

"As Columbia continues to grow, we keep hitting many physical boundaries," Sessions said. "I expect to see the area around Battle High School to grow like a sped-up version of what has happened for the past 40 years around the Rock Bridge area."

He is happy to see Parks and Recreation planning ahead long range for the area.

"Look for a lot of future development there, both commercial and residential," Sessions said.

Hood expects the park to provide obvious benefits.

"The park will bring a new sense of community there," Hood said. "In addition to being a recreational area, it will be a place of wellness. People can go and get reacquainted with the outdoors."

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Mike Martin November 30, 2011 | 1:02 p.m.

Good lord. Can these developer types -- Pugh, Atkins, Wolverton, and company at St. Charles Road Development -- line their pockets anymore at the taxpayer till?

$21,000 per acre? Why the county assessor himself says the land's worth only about $400/acre!

Talk about the so-called "one percenters!"

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks November 30, 2011 | 1:24 p.m.

Actually the land in this area runs about 1500 per acre if you or I wanted to come out and buy. Of course since it is the city they can raise the price since it is not really the cities money.

My question is. Since this area is outside the city limits does this mean it will be a Boone county school and park or will Columbia still pay and care for it?

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin November 30, 2011 | 2:36 p.m.

It's actually $22,573.88 per acre with the utility costs -- if Corey's right, 15 times the market rate for land out there and 50 times what the assessor says it's worth!

Speaking of parks (city parks, not Corey Parks), now we know why there are so many parks in Columbia -- it's a great way for developers to dispose of land they don't intend to use.

And we also have more clues as to why Messiers Bob Pugh and Scott Atkins -- both principals in St. Charles Road Development -- voted for gerrymandering Trial D as members of the city's reapportionment commission, which now appears a huge, previously undisclosed conflict of interest.

Council must approve these outrageous taxpayer stick ups, so it definitely pays to stack the Council with members favorable to opening the vaults and inviting the one percenters in to raid them.

(Whatever happened to DONATING park land, or at least discounting it in the name of public service?)

(Report Comment)
Tammy Miller November 30, 2011 | 4:28 p.m.

In January of 2008, the City Council passed a motion directing staff to proceed with discussions with appropriate individuals regarding a joint park project in conjunction with the new high school being proposed by the Columbia School District. Upon confirmation by the School District of the St Charles Road location for the new Muriel Battle High School (and recently, the new elementary school), staff initiated negotiations with the property owners of land immediately adjacent to the new high school property. This group owns the entire tract between Lake of the Woods Golf Course and Battle High.

Acquisition of land in the vicinity of the new high school is in keeping with the City’s long standing policy/goal of providing public park land adjacent to the community’s public schools. At this same time, funds which had been included in the 2005 park sales tax ballot issue for future park acquisition were set aside to fund this specific project.

As a result of the ongoing negotiations, both the City and the property owner had appraisals prepared to assist in the determination of value. The City’s appraisal, completed by Allan Moore, MAI, of Moore and Shyrock, LLC, valued the property at approximately $14,600 per acre. The property owner’s appraisal, completed by John Kirby, MAI, valued the property at approximately $29,670 per acre. Recognizing the gap between the prices, staff contacted a third party reviewer which placed the value of the land around $20,000-$22,000 range based on completion of site improvements such as roads and utilities.

Based on the information received from the review appraiser, the property owners offered to sell the property to the City for a price of $681,280. This amount was derived from the sale of 30.18 acres at $21,000 per acre plus fifty percent of the estimated cost to extend sewer to the property (estimated sewer cost of $95,000, city share $47,250). Since sewer would eventually have to be ran to the site, park staff agreed with the purchase price of $681,280.

There currently are no funds to develop the park. This acquisition could simply be seen as "land banking" for future use.

A conceptual plan for about 150+ acres (out of 200+) indicate a mixed use development of single and multi-family residences, commercial and office space. Once this future development begins, park staff will start the public process of identifying funds for the first phase development of this park. A public park master plan process will determine how this park will be developed.

The complete report and subsequent updates are all posted on the P&R; website at:

Feel free to check the website or give me a call if you have further questions or comments.

Mike Griggs,
Park Services Manager

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro December 1, 2011 | 2:17 p.m.

Is there still only one park ranger assigned to provide security for all these parks?
Is the city creating new jobs with all these parks or are we just passing money along to developers and construction companies?
Will this park just become a hangout for teens to get stoned during lunch time, until there's more "fast food" parking lots, or will Battle High have a closed campus?

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin December 4, 2011 | 4:16 p.m.

My objections to this park purchase, in greater detail:

CITY HALL HEIST? Gerrymander proponents want big bucks for park land

(Report Comment)

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