East Pointe residents oppose proposed Grindstone trail route

Thursday, August 30, 2012 | 11:53 p.m. CDT; updated 8:25 a.m. CDT, Friday, August 31, 2012

COLUMBIA — Dozens of residents from the East Pointe subdivision gathered Thursday evening to voice opposition to a proposed trail route that would connect the Grindstone Nature Area to McGuire Boulevard east of U.S. 63.

The route primarily runs through flatlands along Grindstone Creek and was developed by Allstate Consultants, which also studied various alternative options. The route that Allstate and Parks and Recreation says is the strongest option would cut through at least two privately-owned properties off Bluff Pointe Drive.


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Jim Baker, who owns one of the properties that would be directly impacted, said the reason he moved to the neighborhood was to have a secluded property with a wooded backyard.

He and other residents have already met with an attorney that specializes in eminent domain.

"No matter what they pay, it will destroy value. This is a public road through my backyard," Baker said. "I will fight it, but they are going to beat me because I don't have the money to fight it all the way, and they can wait me out, and ultimately they will win."

"Are they (the City Council) really going to force something that this many people don't want?" Baker asked.

Cindy Smith, the secretary of the East Pointe Property Owners Association, came out to express her concerns about the trail route.

"They are my neighbors, and I don't appreciate the use of eminent domain," she said.

Many other residents of the East Pointe community also showed up to express their frustration with the proposal.

Sixth Ward City Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said she has been working with local residents for the past two years as the route has been under study. She also voiced concerns.

"I'm not in favor of the proposed route," she said. "In general, I'm in favor of trails, but it's the nuances that matter."

Carl Christopher moved to a house off Bluff Pointe Drive a month ago for its secluded location.

"The privacy is amazing," Christopher said. "I just spent a lot of money for that privacy, and I don't want to give it up."

"It doesn't appear to be a destination or a starting point. Who's gonna use it? Who is it for?" Christopher said. 

In addition to the East Pointe residents who were against the proposed trail route, several MU students enrolled in a parks management course attended the meeting Thursday night. Many of them were in favor of the trail. 

The parks management class is taught by Mike Griggs, assistant director of the Parks and Recreation Department. Griggs also supports the proposed route.

Griggs said the proposed trail could also serve as a "quasi-maintenance route" for existing sewer lines that also run near Grindstone Creek.

Previously, residents of the East Pointe subdivision proposed an alternative route that would bypass the neighborhood and cut through more of the Henry Jackson Waters and C.B. Moss Memorial Wildlife Area. Allstate Consultants studied the alternative route but were concerned the route would involve significantly more elevation change, and complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act would be a challenge. 

On Thursday, John Holmes of Allstate said the proposal by the residents would require the construction of retaining walls or significant grading in order to make the trail more accessible. These costs would be offset somewhat because the alternative route would require the construction of fewer bridges. 

Allstate determined the alternative route would discourage more commuters from using it because it would have longer, steeper slopes, Holmes said. This route would also require the destruction of large tracts of forests. 

After the meeting room cleared out Thursday, City Park Development Superintendent Mike Snyder said he was pleased with the large turnout and expression of community opinion.

"We had a lot of really good input and will be interested to read the comments, compile them and move forward with the process," Snyder said. 

Snyder said the public comment cards that attendees filled out would be made public on the city website early next week.

The proposal will be submitted to the parks commission and possibly other city commissions that would hold public hearings.

Ultimately, the final decision to approve a specific route and move forward with construction rests with the council. 

Supervising editor is Alison Matas.

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Bill Fisher August 31, 2012 | 5:17 a.m.

If I was in the same position, I would practically pay the city to put a trail in my backyard. You know, *you* people also get to use the trail, only now, it'll be only a few meters from your back door. And I don't see how having public park space back there will decrease property values.

(Report Comment)
Andy Schuette August 31, 2012 | 8:13 a.m.

If you want seclusion, move out of the city. There's plenty of good, secluded land in Boone County still.

(Report Comment)
Mike Griggs August 31, 2012 | 9:27 a.m.

Just want to clarify that the few students that attended the meeting were there to see firsthand how various methods are used to solicit public input regarding park planning and management. They were not there to express support for the trail. Their opinions where their own and they were in no way coached.

Real world experiences are vital to the education process and is used throughout the country. It's similar to journalism students being assigned to cover Council meetings, various commission meetings, and special events.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin August 31, 2012 | 1:51 p.m.

The spectre of EMINENT DOMAIN overshadows the proceedings once again.

As it has with blight and EEZ, it's a major fear with a public that didn't bargain for it.

What we bargained for is eminent domain as a tool to build roads and sewers and such.

But in CoMo, it is becoming a tool for corporate welfare and in this case, trails that are not public necessities, but rather, public luxuries.

Eminent domain is one of the most powerful tools government has. It should be wielded only very carefully, and not for any non-necessary projects.

So why does E.D. keep coming up in CoMo?

Money is certainly an issue. But another part of the problem is the rise of the "grumpy old man" administrative style at City Hall I earlier alluded to.

Impatient with the public, City Hall's grumpy old men wanna do what they wanna do; and they're not shy about using powerful tools like eminent domain to do it. The powerful people pushing their buttons -- a certain newspaper publisher comes to mind -- are also grumpy and fed up with the public, which only stokes the situation.

Not particularly empathetic, the grumps at the top are goal driven -- "ends justify the means" types. They will scowl and frown whenever the public -- or City Council -- raises a fuss because, in their mind, We the People need to shush up and get with the program.

(Sure, they'll go through the motions of "listening," but deep down, they'd love to turn us over their collective knees and tan our public behinds for crying and whining and -- you know the drill).

Used to be grumpy old men in city government were fewer in number -- or at least, less noticeable.

But with the loss of several female administrators at City Hall for reasons some find troubling, and the retention of some guys who probably need to retire, grumpy old men are ascendant.

Give them powerful tools like eminent domain -- picture a grumpy old man with a big hammer -- and the advice is clear for John and Jane Q. Public.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The next person you see on that trail outside your house may be the grumpy old man who confiscated your land -- and fought you in court with the very tax dollars you voted to approve during that umpteenth round of parks tax hikes.

(The author is a grumpy-enough middle aged man who knows something about which he speaks. He doesn't have E.D., though. And he hopes he never gets it.)

(Report Comment)

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