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City considers shifting funds for Grindstone Creek trail to other projects

Thursday, October 11, 2012 | 6:36 p.m. CDT; updated 8:42 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 11, 2012

COLUMBIA — A new city plan would shelve the controversial Grindstone Creek trail and use the money for other projects.

Tabling the Grindstone trail project would free up $1.4 million to move forward with projects that have been prioritized as a part of the GetAbout Columbia initiative. Projects that could benefit from the plan (and their estimated costs) include:

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At last week’s Columbia City Council meeting, Mayor Bob McDavid suggested the city shift funds for a trail along Grindstone Creek and use it to pay for additional GetAbout projects. The Grindstone project received significant neighborhood opposition at an August meeting.

“Some of us have received comment; there are a couple of homes that would be severely impacted. The easement area is substantially up in the backyard; by any stretch of the imagination it has to be considered intrusive,” McDavid said. “We are confronted with citizens who believe this will be very intrusive to their homes.”

The most expensive of the additional GetAbout projects is the Shepard to Rollins bike trail that would cross Hinkson Creek east of MU’s animal sciences campus, connecting Old 63 to Rollins.

“I want to pitch this in place of the Grindstone trail,” McDavid said of the Shepard to Rollins trail at the council meeting.  

Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe has opposed the Grindstone trail in favor of the Shepard-Rollins connection.

“It makes sense to go forward on the projects that are more central city and ones where there are support from the people most impacted,” Hoppe said Wednesday. “There is strong opposition to the Grindstone trail by pretty much the entire neighborhood, so to go ahead and proceed on trails more largely supported by the neighbors makes sense.”

Rod Robison, Shepard Boulevard Neighborhood Association chairman, said Thursday that he and his neighbors support the proposed trail connecting the neighborhood to campus. He said the trail would be used for transportation to work and campus as well as recreation

Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hood said his take-away from the council meeting was to move a plan forward to combine the Grindstone funds with the second round of federal GetAbout money.

The changes are expected to be discussed this month by several city advisory boards: the Parks and Recreation, Bicycle and Pedestrian, Energy and Environment and Disabilities commissions.

A public hearing would be held before the council makes decisions on specific projects.

The GetAbout program received an additional $5.9 million in federal funding last year, $3.3 million of which has already been committed to specific projects and administrative costs. Shifting the Grindstone trail money, which was approved by a 2010 park sales tax ballot initiative, and adding leftover funds from the first round could raise the total remaining money to $5 million. This would almost fund the entirety of the remaining GetAbout projects prioritized by the City Council. 

Public Works Director John Glascock told the council there was almost $1 million left over from the first round of GetAbout funding that could be folded into the second-round projects.

Without the additional funding, the council would have to choose between the Shepard trail and multiple less-expensive projects.

GetAbout Director Ted Curtis said the program is wrapping up the projects funded by the initial round of federal funding and beginning to transition to the second round of projects.

“All the indicators are that we are making a difference,” Curtis said. “There are always people in a community like this that are critical, but regardless of the criticism it seems to be working."

Supervising editor is John Schneller.


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