Columbia Comprehensive Plan Task Force meets with residents in the Third Ward

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 | 10:17 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Mobility, growth management and a continued lack of participation from residents in formulating a new comprehensive plan for the city were the topics of discussion at Blue Ridge Elementary on Wednesday night.

The Comprehensive Plan Task Force is presenting the framework for the new plan to each of Columbia's six wards. The plan, called Columbia Imagined, would provide a vision for growth and guide both elected officials and other city departments.

The plan's growth management section, one of seven in the plan, is meant to channel development to specific areas.

"I think it's important to point out that the growth management planning phase of this is really neutral with respect to the amount of development," former Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala said. "You can have opinions about how fast you want things to grow, but it really addresses the issue of where that growth ought to occur or ought not to occur."

Residents talked about mobility, another section of the plan, as the city tries to balance the resources it puts into road maintenance and public transportation.

Allen Hahn, president of the Woodbridge neighborhood association, said, "Our public transportation system leaves an awful lot to be desired, particularly for those who aren't quite as fortunate to have a vehicle."

This is important to the Third Ward, as Skala put it, as it is "a little bit more isolated than some areas (of the city), so transit is a big deal."

Another point of discussion continued to be the low turnout for this series of community meetings. Fewer than 10 people attended the meeting.

Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl said he was a little discouraged to hear the First and Second wards' meetings didn't attract more people. "I just wish there were more people involved, and how do you get the word out?"

Kespohl emailed the presidents of his ward's neighborhood associations and said he'd like to involve more civic organizations.

During his presentation, Pat Zenner, development services manager for the city, also mentioned the need for more participation.

"We can't do this on our own," he said. "We've got 100,000 residents within the city of Columbia. We hope to hear from many and help us craft a plan that will basically help us move into the future with a collective view."

The next meeting is at 6 p.m. Thursday at Fairview Elementary in the Fourth Ward.

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