COLUMBIA — Whether to proceed with the Grindstone trail will be up for discussion Wednesday evening by the Parks and Recreation Commission.
The commission is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Activity and Recreation Center, and the commission is expected to vote on a Columbia City Council plan, which would set aside the Grindstone trail project and shift the remaining $1.4 million to other projects.
Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Mike Griggs said representatives from the engineering firm Allstate Consultants, which studied and developed the initial Grindstone trail route, would be on hand to make a presentation to the commission. Griggs said the firm has gone back to the trail site to see if it would be possible to develop a route that avoided private properties and would present its findings to the commission.
The original route cut through two properties in the East Pointe subdivision, setting off neighborhood angst toward the trail that led to the council's proposal to use the funds elsewhere.
At the October parks commission meeting, the commissioners heard public comments against and in favor of the Grindstone trail and conveyed mixed opinions on the plan. Fourteen members of the public spoke about the trail, most of whom expressed opposition.
The Environment and Energy commission and the Bicycle and Pedestrian commission both voted unanimously at October meetings to keep the Grindstone project on track, citing concerns that the project was specifically identified by the 2010 parks sales tax ballot initiative.
Griggs said he has a hard time remembering a trail project as contentious at this one in his 20 years at the Parks Department.
"It's been one of the most political projects that we've dealt with," Griggs said.
The plan to defer the Grindstone trail and shift funds was put forward at the Oct. 1 city council meeting and has been discussed at various commission meetings since then.
Mayor Bob McDavid opposes the proposed Grindstone route and supports shifting the funds to help pay for the Shepard to Rollins connection trail. He reiterated his position at last week's council meeting, and said he has been to the homes that would be affected by the trail.
"The level of intrusiveness is a disqualifying factor at this point," McDavid said.
The Shepard to Rollins project would cross Hinkson Creek, connecting Old 63 to Rollins Street near the MU Animal Sciences campus. The trail is the most expensive of the remaining GetAbout Columbia projects with an estimated cost of $1.7 million.
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