Sixth Ward boasts highest-attended Comprehensive Plan Task Force meeting

Monday, December 12, 2011 | 9:32 p.m. CST; updated 10:22 p.m. CST, Monday, December 12, 2011

COLUMBIA — Compared to five similar meetings, a relative flood of people came to the Columbia Comprehensive Plan Task Force meeting in the Sixth Ward, held Monday night at Shepard Boulevard Elementary School.

About 25 people attended the last of the community meetings that have taken place in the past month in each of the city's six wards. Fewer than a dozen people attended any other Ward meeting, with some being virtually unattended.

"I'm happy to see that," Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said.

Hoppe held her campaign kickoff event Sunday and told everyone there about Monday's meeting.

This meeting is the last one that will solely present information to residents about Columbia Imagined, the city's new comprehensive plan. The plan will provide a framework for how the city should grow and gives elected officials a vision for Columbia for the next 20 years.

Hoppe said she's heard from Sixth Ward residents that the city needs a more efficient transit system. People have also told her that they would like to see residential developments that fit with the surrounding communities.

The task force has been working on improving attendance at these meetings. Larry Dickerson, an MU Extension community development specialist, listed ways for residents to get involved. He mentioned the plan's website only to have a resident look it up on an iPad and see that the events page hasn't been updated since May 4.

The plan includes seven areas — such as infrastructure, economic development and growth management — that residents discussed.

Robin Blake, a Sixth Ward resident, said he's seen how much Columbia has grown, especially to the east.

"I would like to see much more controlled growth, particularly in terms of the sprawl," he said. "And I'd like to see some kind of rejuvenation of the central city."

Blake said growth contributes to more people needing a quality bus system and that the comprehensive plan has done a good job so far of engaging the public.

Another Sixth Ward resident, Laura Sands, said she would like to see improved access to affordable housing and a wide variety of jobs to provide for all income levels in Columbia.

Sixth Ward resident Curt Krehbiel said that in his East Campus neighborhood they've lost a lot of historic buildings and that he would like the plan to place a greater emphasis on preserving historic buildings. He also said there doesn't seem to be a large supply of affordable housing in Columbia.

The next portion of the plan will begin near the end of January with another round of community meetings in each ward. This phase of the plan begins the portion in which residents can tell the planning staff what is important to them and how they would like to see the city change.

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