Columbia’s trail system to expand as the city grows

The extension will run from Oakland Park to Oakland Church Road.
Sunday, July 8, 2007 | 2:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:58 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Columbia’s trail system could extend into what is now Boone County.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously voted to recommend a proposed two-mile extension of Bear Creek Trail from the Boone County Fairgrounds to Oakland Church Road. The extension is an amendment to the Parks and Recreation 2005 Trails Plan and was also approved in March by the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Jeff Barrow, chairman of the planning commission, said the panel finds trails attractive because of their practicality.

“From a planning and zoning perspective, the trail and its extension solves several problems,” Barrow said. “It allows people to have recreation as the city grows and transportation. It’s one answer to two questions.”

The Bear Creek Trail extends from Cosmo Park to Oakland Park, and the 2005 plan designates land north of Blue Ridge Road to the fairgrounds as the first step of the trail development. Should the City Council approve the amendment recommended by the commission, a corridor from the fairgrounds to Oakland Church Road would become another possible extension of the trail into an area facing growth.

“The trail system has proven to be popular with citizens, and it’s important to have long-range and short-range plans for the system,” city Planning Director Tim Teddy said. “Having a plan that illustrates future trails puts the public on notice.”

Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hood said the extension anticipates the future of northeast Columbia.

“Basically, it’s in recognition of the planned development and growth happening there,” he said.

The revised 2007 Trails Plan shows largely vacant property along the tentative route for the Bear Creek extension, but most of that land is slated for future residential development, such as the Arbor Falls and Tuscany Ridge subdivisions.

The city has already reached an agreement with the developers of Tuscany Ridge. Land along Bear Creek will be reserved for future trail use if and when the land is annexed and rezoned.

Hood said that the trails plan as a whole is a long-term project that could take 20 to 25 years to complete as funding for trails projects becomes available.

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