COLUMBIA — The plan to rebuild 1,500 feet of Hunt Avenue between West Worley Street and I-70 Drive Southwest is being put on hold for six weeks, pending a city review of pleas from property owners for a scaled-down project.
Before a Monday public hearing at the City Council meeting, First Ward Councilwoman Almeta Crayton said she met with residents of the avenue twice last week to address concerns over trees in the affected area.
The city’s original proposal calls for widening the road from 20 feet to 28 feet to enable cars to park on both sides of the road. It also includes the addition of a 5-foot sidewalk on the west side as well as drainage improvements. The plan would affect the size of front yards only on the west side of the street to avoid relocating existing power poles on the east side. Some trees will be removed to make way for the project, according to a report to the council from the Public Works Department.
Public Works Director John Glascock gave a visual presentation of the plan in which he maintained that every effort would be made to save the large-specimen trees.
Crayton said that while the residents agreed the street is too narrow now, they don’t need parking on both sides of the street because they park in their driveways. She added that most of the residents favor improved drainage, but some oppose the addition of a sidewalk.
Hunt Avenue property owner Amy Forsell said neighbors want a 24-foot wide pavement, with parking on one side and no sidewalk. Forsell said her front yard would be the one most affected by the work.
“We don’t need an elaborate scheme for things,” she said. “We need a good road, with good drainage. We don’t need parking on both sides. We hardly ever park on the road.”
Sid Sullivan, a Columbia resident who owns property in the First Ward, said widening Hunt Avenue too much would cause some homes to be out of compliance with other city ordinances.
“When you’re talking about spending over half-a-million dollars to widen the road, even though that is the standard, you have other standards required to setback for housing from the roadway,” Sullivan said, citing an earlier report from the Columbia Missourian. “In these old neighborhoods, the right of way does not allow that setback to take place.”
The City Council, in response to the comments, tried to justify the sidewalk part of the plan.
“We’re not just building for today, but also for the future of Columbia,” Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said, adding that it is the council’s policy to provide sidewalks everywhere.
The council tabled the plan until Dec. 17, when it will consider whether to narrow the new street to 24 feet.
The project as drawn would carry an estimated cost of $561,000, with $40,100 going to Shafer, Kline & Warren, Inc., for engineering services. The city budget for fiscal 2008 shows that $372,000 of that will come from Community Development Block Grant money; the rest will come from the city’s capital improvements budget.