COLUMBIA – Discussion of a new trail proposal just west of College Park Drive is underway, and residents are invited to participate in the conversation.
An open house to learn about the project and offer comments will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Activity and Recreation Center, 701 W. Ash St.
Phase 2 of County House Trail would extend 0.6 miles north from near Stadium Boulevard and College Park Drive to Rollins Road.
The new trail would be an extension of the existing County House Trail that connects the MKT Nature-Fitness Trail just south of Twin Lakes Recreation Area.
The map below displays the existing County House Trail route and its connection to the proposed trail. The black line represents the proposed trail extension; the red, an alternate route for the new trail; and blue is the existing County House Trail, which connects to the MKT trail at destination C.
"It'll give people on the south side of town a good connection to get up to the ARC," Sam Budzyna, an engineer with the Public Works Department, said.
The department held its first public meeting about the plan on June 12. Budzyna said about 60 people attended.
"We were kind of overwhelmed," Budzyna said. "We weren't expecting that many people to show up."
Al Tacker, president of the College Park Neighborhood Association, said his impression from the first meeting was that it would take "fairly minor changes to the plan to satisfy the people who are concerned." The question they had, he said, was how the trail "would interact with the swim club."
The pool at the Southwest Swim Club is somewhat secluded by trees and the trail would invite passers-by to that area, Budzyna said. Some club members are concerned about the trail running too close to the volleyball court and swing sets.
Bryant McNally, president of Southwest Swim Association, said how to route the trail involves privacy, safety, property rights and other potential issues such as traffic control.
Budzyna said the plan has already been tweaked to put more distance between the trail and the swim club.
Some residents raised issues of privacy at home. “There’s always pushback whenever you know we’re going to build this trail behind somebody’s house, and there are concerns about loss of privacy,” Budzyna said.
Budzyna said he received an email from a Columbia resident stating that although he wouldn’t be at the upcoming meeting he was in support of the plan.
The proposed trail would cost an estimated $400,000, Budzyna said, and the funds would come from the GetAbout Columbia, a federal grant that's provided just under $28 million to the city to develop trails and promote non-motorized transportation.
“Hopefully, by having these Interested Parties meetings, we will be able to address concerns and our design proposal will be one that is supported by the community,” Budzyna said.
The proposed trail needs approval of the Columbia City Council. If approved, construction would begin in 2015.
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