Parks and Recreation to move major chunk of Recreation Services Division

Thursday, January 3, 2008 | 7:38 p.m. CST; updated 1:24 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

COLUMBIA — Columbia’s Parks and Recreation Department is moving its office in charge of recreation programming for seniors from a location accessible by bus to a facility near Stephens Lake Park.

A major section of the Recreation Services Division will move to 2311 E. Walnut, across the street from the Riechmann Pavilion, a Nov. 29 memo to the Columbia City Council said. The office, currently located in Suite 216 B at the Parkade Center, houses programs such as 50-Plus, the Older Americans Klub (OAK), Life Enrichment and pre-school recreational activities. The 50-Plus program offers aerobics, ceramics and other crafts classes, as well as day trips for Columbia residents who are 50 and older. OAK offers dancing and social activities for seniors.

The move is because of the “staff’s opinion that the facility at the Parkade Center was not meeting the needs of the department or the program participants” and fears that the old lease was about to become more costly, the Nov. 29 memo from the city administration said.

There is no bus service on East Walnut Street, according to the city’s public transportation map. To access the new office, seniors who don’t drive and can’t get a ride would have to use the Green Line bus service to Old 63, which is only available on weekdays, or the Red Line to East Broadway. By comparison, the Parkade Center is easily accessible by bus both on weekdays and Saturdays.

Mike Hood, Parks and Recreation Department director, said “seniors can reach (the new office) by their personal vehicles.” He also added that the location of the new facility has the advantage of being close to Stephens Lake Park, which gives seniors another recreational option.

The move is scheduled for early February. The new facility “will be a little larger than before,” Hood said. Its total area is 9,800 square feet and the rent is $103,860 per year, according to the city’s five-year lease with the property owner, Carolyn J. Adams Revocable Living Trust. The City Council approved the lease on Dec. 17.

“It would not be an ideal location for seniors,” said Ann Havey, president of the Boone County Council on Aging board of directors.

Betty Powell, 81, a longtime volunteer for OAK, had not heard about the move but was optimistic about it. She has a car and drives, so the OAK relocation would not affect her personally. Although many seniors don’t have their own vehicles, Powell said, “they will get used to (the new location).”

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