Annexation deal on city agenda

200 acres of Rock Bridge State Park would be annexed in exchange for sewer service.
Monday, February 2, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:14 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

A pre-annexation agreement that would allow the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to extend sewer and sanitation services to facilities inside Rock Bridge State Park will be discussed at tonight’s City Council meeting.

The DNR’s proposal would allow an eventual annexation of about 200 acres of the park’s northwest corner to the city in exchange for sewer service. Current park borders do not touch city limits.

The agreement would extend service to a park office and other buildings at the cost of the DNR. Future constructions, like a proposed visitor’s center, would be covered by the sanitation lines as well.

Friends of Rock Bridge State Park have wanted to add a visitors center since the group’s inception in 1992.

Jan Weaver, a member of the group, said she does not know exactly when construction will begin because of all the planning required for the project. The building would be used to support educational programs, Weaver said.

“The building is a tool we’re using to help provide programs, not an end itself,” Weaver said. “The park already does a lot of programs, but we want to add to that.”

The department doesn’t want to annex the entire park because of city policies limiting prescribed burns and firearms. The area under discussion includes bike trails.

In a letter to the council dated Aug. 1, Doug Eiken, director of state parks, wrote that because of environmental and financial concerns, annexation is viewed as the best solution to “protect the park’s natural resources, although other methods of wastewater treatment are available to us.” He also wrote that the 200 acres is much more than would be served by the sewer connection and is more than the 60 acres originally proposed by the DNR.

One alternative would be for the park to create its own cesspool, but that would require more space.

“There’s a lot of alternatives and trade-offs when you get into the details,” said Scott Schulte, superintendent of Rock Bridge State Park. “Some would take more space, some would be more costly. Most of our state parks do have an on-location sewer treatment, because they are not within proximity of city limits.”

In other action tonight, the council will:

  • Hold a public hearing on the proposed rezoning of the 489-acre Philips farm southeast of Columbia. Developer Elvin Sapp hopes to build a mix of homes, offices and retail businesses on the tract and have it annexed by the city. The council has already held a public hearing on the annexation request and plans a final vote on the annexation and rezoning requests at its Feb. 16 meeting.
  • Hear a report on plans for public art at Stephens Lake Park. Marie Hunter, director of the Office of Cultural Affairs, said in the report that the budget for the project will be $18,500 and that the city’s Standing Committee on Public Art has decided that only Missouri artists will be eligible.

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