Columbia officials want to make an offer to buy part of the 489-acre Philips tract for a new city park.
City Manager Ray Beck said Friday that the Columbia City Council has directed city staff to begin negotiations for the purchase of more than 450 acres in southeast Columbia for a new regional park. The targeted land comprises 153 acres of the Philips farm, including the 40-acre Bristol Lake and 320 acres across Gans Road owned by Sue Crane.
Developer Elvin Sapp, who wants to put a mix of homes, offices and shops on the Philips land, has already offered to sell park acreage to the city. Columbia officials have been considering for almost a year whether to make an offer on both the Philips and the Crane properties.
The purchase would be significant for Sapp: If the city buys the land for a park, it will be largely preserved as green space, sparing Sapp the hassle of adjusting his plans to meet city standards on impervious surfaces in the environmentally sensitive watersheds of Clear and Gans creeks.
Beck said Friday the council believes the Philips and Crane properties combined could accommodate a new park with athletic fields and other recreational facilities. It would also fit in with the city’s master plan, which calls for a 300- to 500-acre regional park in the area.
The council elected to pursue the park land during a closed meeting Thursday night. Before that meeting, Assistant City Manager Bill Watkins said, the council during a work session discussed a larger set of parks projects that would total about $40 million over the next several years. That list included an estimated $5 million for the acquisition of land for a south side regional park.
Crane could not be reached for comment Friday, and representatives for Sapp did not return telephone messages Friday.