MLK park to receive upgrades

Plans for the trail area include landscaping, lighting and curbing.
Friday, February 13, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:57 a.m. CDT, Saturday, June 28, 2008

New Century Fund Inc. set out to raise $100,000 to restore Columbia’s Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. After surpassing that goal, it is now trying to determine what to do with the extra money.

The Parks and Recreation Department met with the project committee and the New Century Fund directors Thursday night at the Activity and Recreation Center to discuss possible plans for landscaping, lighting, and curbing in the areas of the MKT Trail surrounding the memorial.

The funding for this new development, known as Battle Gardens, would come from what is left over after restoring the memorial. Fund-raising efforts have grossed more than $196,000, including private donations and a federal grant of $100,000.

“The grant was already more than we expected,” said Leigh Nutter, coordinator of the Office of Volunteer Services.

The highest estimated cost for the memorial restoration was $80,000. With that number in mind, the Parks and Recreation Department set forth a plan for the new development at slightly more than $100,000. This means that even when both projects are finished, there will probably still be money left over.

“The restoration of the memorial is the top priority; we want to make sure that money is set aside,” said Mike Hood, director of Parks and Recreation.

Once the memorial is taken care of, there are several options for the remaining funds. The entrance of the park was one place the department wanted to spend the extra money. A new entrance sign was discussed, stressing that it be appropriate and comply with Transportation Department standards.

Steve Saitta, park development superintendent , said the sign would be elevated above the roadway so it could be seen from a long distance.

Beyond the entrance, the plans include a proposed parking area to eliminate a gravel turnaround. Landscaping and new lighting around the lot and more parking access are also in the plan.

A new plot of trees and landscaping would be placed further down the drive leading to the second parking lot, which would also have new vertical curbing and set apart middle islands .

Saitta spoke of water drainage into the creek and said that the sidewalks between each island would allow for better water movement and also better handicap accessibility.

“There will be added details as we fine tune the plans,” Saitta said.

The restoration committee and the Parks and Recreation Department hope to present a report on the project to the City Council on March 1.

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