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City, PedNet team up for Douglass High School landscaping project

Sunday, April 21, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:19 p.m. CDT, Sunday, April 21, 2013

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Parks and Recreation Department plans to begin landscaping and sidewalk improvements in front of Douglass High School as early as mid-May. 

"After council approval, we'll start mid-May, and work will be completed by the end of June, weather permitting," city park planner Mike Snyder said.

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The project, which was approved by the City Council on Monday night, will result in  reconstruction of the sidewalk along Providence Road and installation of wrought iron fencing, landscaping and turf improvements in front of the school.

Plans also call for a memorial bench and plaque in honor of Beulah Ralph, who died in 2010 after working for the School District for 58 years and at Douglass during its desegregation. Private fundraisers will pay for the memorial. 

This project is an addition to the Douglass High School infrastructure project, which included the removal of a pedestrian overpass near the school and the installation of a new crosswalk on Providence Road. 

"We are going to beautify the front of Douglass High and replace the sidewalk along Providence," Snyder said, "It was a very narrow, old sidewalk that needed some help and construction from the previous project broke it up, also."

The estimated cost of the project is $33,000 and will be funded through the PedNet Coalition.

The coalition worked with the city to design the project after receiving grant money from the Missouri Foundation for Health. The grant, received in 2009, had an earmark for infrastructure that led to the inception of this project. 

"We want to make the area more walkable and have safe access from public housing to Douglass High School and Douglass Park," said Melissa Birdsong, director of finance and administration for the PedNet Coalition. 

Beyond aesthetic benefits, the project also is intended to give neighborhood residents better access to physical activity. 

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.


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