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City Council weighs building two new elementary school gyms

Monday, February 4, 2013 | 6:58 p.m. CST; updated 7:37 p.m. CST, Monday, February 4, 2013

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Parks and Recreation Department is presenting a report to the Columbia City Council to build two new elementary school gyms in a partnership with Columbia Public Schools.

One gym would be located at the new elementary school near Battle High School. The  second gym would be at a school site that is yet to be determined, according to the proposal before council. The project will be discussed at the council's Monday night meeting. There will not be a vote on the proposal until a later date.

The two gyms would be constructed between 2014 and 2015. The proposal includes the Parks and Recreation Department contributing $150,000 to improve the courts in order to accommodate its youth leagues.

The $150,000 is the maximum amount the Parks and Recreation Department would contribute, if the plan is approved. The number comes from a department estimate. Approval will be an agreement between the Parks and Recreation Department and Columbia Public Schools.

The improvements will consist of a 45  feet by 70  feet court, retractable bleachers and rubber composite flooring used for multiple sports, according to the proposal.

The project would be funded by the city’s parks sales tax. 

This isn't the first time the Parks and Recreation Department and Columbia Public Schools have worked together.

"There's been a number of partnerships," Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hood said. "We've built baseball fields and split the cost of maintenance, parks adjacent to schools, tennis courts and the Hickman High pool."

This is the first time the two groups have collaborated on gyms.

"It works very well when we work together, especially when building new schools," Columbia Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said, "In this case, making the gym multiuse benefits us all."    

Most elementary school gyms in Columbia are very basic and only meant for physical education classes, Hood said.

"Elementary school gyms are very small," he said. "They are not conducive to the running of organized sports like volleyball and basketball."

If the gym proposal moves through council, it will also need to be approved by the school board.


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