New Norma Sutherland Smith Park will have extreme fitness trail

Monday, February 10, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:51 a.m. CST, Monday, February 10, 2014

The Parks and Recreation Department is discussing a proposed plan to improve Norma Sutherland Smith Park. New features include a basketball court, a skate plaza, a playground, a splash park and a fitness trail. Graphic by Yufei Zhang

COLUMBIA — A new park in north Columbia will feature a fitness trail inspired by the burgeoning popularity of extreme fitness events and obstacle courses around the country.

Norma Sutherland Smith Park will be built on 50 acres in northeast Columbia between Brown Station Road and Waco Road, according to the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department's website.

The new park's defining feature will be an obstacle course, said Matt Boehner, a park planner at the Parks and Recreation Department. Illustrations of the plans for Smith Park show multiple walls for participants to run and jump over on the trail, as well as several 12-foot climbing walls.

The trail will also include cargo nets to climb across, rows of tires to step through and a few large tires to flip over.

The idea for the 1.25-mile fitness trail came from the growing popularity of obstacle races, such as Spartan Races, Boehner said.

"We have a lot of very active fitness and running groups in Columbia, and this is something that we thought would be very popular amongst Columbia residents," Boehner said.

The fitness trail and other aspects on the new park will be on display at a public input meeting from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday at Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary School. A second public input meeting will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 20 at the Activity and Recreation Center.

These meetings will be a chance for the public to provide input on plans for the project's first phase.

Plans for this first phase include building one of the park's two parking lots, a shelter, a restroom, one tennis court and the fitness trail, as well as taking the appropriate storm water drainage and water quality measures, Boehner said.

The department is particularly interested in the public's input on aspects of the fitness trail and the design for the shelter area. Construction on the first phase should begin in late 2014.

There is no specific timeline for when the second phase of construction will begin, Boehner said. It will depend on the city's completion of other ongoing Capital Improvement Projects.

The vision for the park is modeled off of Cosmo-Bethel Park and when it's completed, Smith Park will have the following features:

  • A youth baseball field
  • A half-court basketball court
  • Four tennis courts
  • A skate park
  • A splash spot
  • A playground
  • A lawn for picnics and other outdoor activities
  • A pavilion
  • A large shelter for outdoor events
  • Two parking lots that can hold 165 cars
  • Three bioretention ponds for public fishing

The youth baseball field, basketball court, playground and splash spot will be close to Alpha Hart Elementary School on Waco Road.

The budget for the first phase of the project is $250,000 funded by the city's Park Sales Tax.

The land for the project was donated to the city in 2000 by local developer Jeff Smith for use as a public park. It will be named after his late mother, Norma Sutherland Smith, a long-time Columbia resident.

Source: Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation. Yufei Zhang/Missourian

Supervising editor is Edward Hart.

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