Extension of County House Trail stirs public interest

Monday, August 25, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:46 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 26, 2014

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.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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Mitchell Moore August 25, 2014 | 11:45 a.m.

In order to avoid interfering with the Swim Club and avoid interfering with the privacy of homeowners and avoid ending up at the bottom of one of the steepest hills in Columbia and traveling through a school zone often busy with buses and children,

a better route (and one with a less steep grade) would be to use the crossing lights to go across Stadium Blvd. from the south and go directly up College Park to the SW corner of Kiwanis Park and create a trail for bikes transversing the Park from the SW to the NE and exiting the Park where it meets the SE corner of the Russell School property

and then going north along the school property (which runs alongside the property of the Trinity Presbyterian Church) to West Rollins Road. The trail would then come out a stone's throw from Manor Drive where a new wide sidewalk is being planned and from Manor go the the stoplight at the intersection of West Broadway where the bikes can safely cross and continue up Clinkscales to the ARC.

The City has a foot trail from west to east and if the park is still owned by the Kiwanis Club then permission would have to be obtained from them for the bike trail.

Likewise, the taxpayers own Russell School, and they would have to support the idea as well. And why would they not?

No residents' privacy invaded, no swim club interfered with, no super steep hill, a path through a park and exit within a stone's throw of the bike trail on Manor Drive to the crossing at West Broadway to the ARC. What's not to like?

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