A consultant could be a big help to the Mayor’s Task Force on Bicentennial Celebration Planning, and its members are asking the Columbia City Council to give them money to hire one.

The committee has asked the council for a total of $50,000 to help plan bicentennial activities and to market and raise money for them, according to a report the City Council received in December.

Half the money requested would pay a consultant that would help with planning and fundraising, and the other half would be used directly for marketing, public relations and fundraising, according to the report.

“If there is money left over, it will be returned to the fund,” committee Chairman Brent Gardner said.

The committee has already received a consulting bid from the Columbia company Missionmapping, which would help committee members with fundraising organization and creating fundraising pitches.

Missionmapping would charge $9,000 for services rendered between January and March 2019 then $2,500 per month for additional services, according to a summary proposal it sent to the committee.

The task force has been meeting monthly since it formed in February. It has already determined the theme and logo of the celebration, CoMo200, and has set general goals for the celebration. The main focus of the fundraising will be the expansion of Flat Branch Park.

The committee chose to take on the park’s expansion because of it’s historical role in Columbia’s development. In the 1820s, the site was home to Columbia’s Market Square, an epicenter of commerce. It later housed Katy Station, a stop along the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railway, according to the city’s website.

“It really is the center of the birthplace of Columbia,” Gardner said. “Now it’s the beginning and the end of the trail system.”

The bicentennial committee is working closely with the Parks and Recreation Department, which at the December meeting requested a re-appropriation of $21,666 to hire an engineer to help with the park expansion. The council approved that request.

The money was left over from the demolition of the McAdams building and returned to the council’s capital investments income account, according to the appropriation request presented at the meeting.

The expansion would include uncovering parts of Flat Branch Creek, adding sculptures and a bridge, and expanding the park to Providence Road.

“It’s a major undertaking,” Gardner said. “We want to get things right, so it’s taking a lot longer than any of us thought.”

The City Council will vote on the committee’s request later this month, and the task force will meet to create a strategy for 2019 planning.

“I think there’s going to be a lot happening this first quarter,” Gardner said.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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