COLUMBIA — Despite public opposition to a proposed trail along Grindstone Creek, the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department plans to move forward with its preferred route.
Park planners soon will recommend the Parks and Recreation Commission review the trail plan developed by Allstate Consultants and presented to the public, Park Development Superintendent Mike Snyder said.
The trail route would run along the creek and connect the Grindstone Nature Area to Maguire Boulevard east of U.S. 63. It would cut through multiple privately-owned properties in the East Pointe subdivision and would require the city use eminent domain to acquire some land.
East Pointe residents voiced opposition to the trail route at a public input meeting the department hosted Aug. 30.
Attendees filled out public comment cards that are available on the department's website. The survey will be available through Sept. 17 for more public comment, and the department will continue to review the results.
Snyder said the formal recommendation will come from Mike Hood, Parks and Recreation director, at the Oct. 18 Parks and Recreation Commission meeting in the Activity and Recreation Center. The commission will allow for public comment at the meeting.
"As far as I know, the recommended route hasn't changed. To build a trail through that area, we believe the best route is to follow the creek," Snyder said on Tuesday.
According to a department summary of the public meeting, 63 residents met with parks officials and representatives from Allstate Consultants, the engineering firm that developed the route and studied a variety of alternative options.
Jim Baker, a resident of East Pointe, said he will continue to fight the route that goes across his property.
"It appears they are not listening to the public. These public meetings are just window dressing," Baker said on Wednesday.
Baker said he will continue to rally opposition to the trail and is planning to circulate petitions, contact members of the Columbia City Council and go door-to-door.
He said he will fight the use of eminent domain in the courts if necessary, but he isn't confident he can outspend or outlast the city.
"My tax dollars pay for city attorneys. It is pretty tough to outspend our own tax dollars," Baker said.
The trail project was included in the 2010 ballot proposal approved by voters to renew a one-eighth cent park sales tax that also included funding for improvements to existing trails and parks and land acquisition and preservation. The proposal passed with 64 percent approval.
The Grindstone trail project has a budget of $1.57 million and will require the construction of four bridges across Grindstone Creek, Snyder said.
After parks staff makes a formal recommendation to the commission, the commission will consider the proposal and provide for the opportunity for more public input before making its own recommendation to the City Council, which will have final approval before moving forward with trail construction, Snyder said.
Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe, who represents the East Pointe subdivision, attended the public meeting in August and said she was against the proposed route. Hoppe could not be reached for comment on Thursday.