Columbia City Council approves Douglass Park improvement plan

Monday, December 2, 2013 | 9:57 p.m. CST; updated 10:11 a.m. CST, Tuesday, December 3, 2013

COLUMBIA — The Columbia City Council at its Monday meeting approved a plan to build up Douglass Park, adding an amphitheater, a small skate park and other structures.

The plan was approved by all council members but First Ward Councilman Fred Schmidt, who was absent.

"I'm really happy to see resources invested in this area," Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas said.

Dozens of supporters of the plan turned out at the meeting. Seven spoke in support of the plan, though some also voiced concerns that it could cause traffic problems.

Many of the speakers were particularly enthusiastic about the small skate park in the plan. When Chris Bailey of Parkside Skateshop spoke, he urged audience members to stand to express their support. About 35 people — many of them young emissaries from the skating community — did so.  

The park development resulted from the purchase of several lots adjacent to Douglass Park in the past seven years. A meeting last year between park staff and the Douglass Park Neighborhood Association led to the development of six plans, later narrowed to two.

Both plans were presented at an Oct. 24 meeting in Douglass High School. Feedback from the meeting and from an online survey indicated that nearly 75 percent approved Plan A.

The plan calls for the removal of the parking lot within Douglass Park and the construction of pull-in parking along Fifth Street. It also includes an amphitheater, skate park, handball court, shelters and the renovation of several existing structures.

The first phase of the plan will be implemented with $100,000 from the 2010 park sales tax. Additional funding may come from a future sales tax and grants, according to city documents.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Mike Griggs said that the proposed pull-in parking along Fifth Street would be about four feet longer than average spots, which could eliminate traffic concerns by improving visibility and leaving more room for pedestrians. He said he would look into methods for making the traffic along the park safer.

Supervising editor is Richard Webner.

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