The Build This Town program will get another $75,000 for the agriculture park it plans to build at Clary-Shy Community Park after the Convention and Visitors Bureau Board voted unanimously Monday to approve the funding.

Build This Town is a project created through Friends of the Farm, a public-private partnership of the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department, the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, the Columbia Farmers Market and Sustainable Farms and Communities.

Clary-Shy Community Park was donated to the city in 1995. Around 2007, the Convention and Visitors Advisory Board agreed to give Sustainable Farms and Communities $250,0000 toward an agro-tourism project on the property. That money was never awarded, though, because the project failed to gain traction at the time.

The Columbia City Council approved the first phase of the agriculture park in November. That will include a pavilion, outdoor education facilities, an urban garden and parking. Later phases will include a barn and a greenhouse. Crops raised in the urban garden will be donated to local food banks.

The entire project is expected to cost $7 million. The city already has provided $400,000 in parks sales tax proceeds for the project, as well as nearly $600,000 from its designated loan fund. The City Council last year also accepted a $700,000 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health for the project and expects another $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service, according to previous Missourian reporting.

As of Monday, Build This Town had raised nearly $3 million. On Monday, Friends of the Farm went to the advisory board to make a pitch for more money. The board agreed to provide $25,000 for each of the project's three phases, for a total of $75,000.

Bill Polansky, executive director of the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, said the market is a good fit for the Convention and Visitors Bureau's mission of attracting visitors to the city.

"People may not come for the farmers market, but it's one of those things that makes people stay longer," Polansky said. He attended Monday's meeting to represent the Build This Town partnership.

The argument resonated with the board, which is largely comprised of hoteliers.

"I personally can't wait for the farmers market as a local, but no one is coming for the farmers market directly," board member Heather Hargrove, who is the general manager of Stoney Creek Inn, said. "It needs to be tied to the marketing of existing events. For example, if there is a football game, promote coming in Friday night to see the farmers market first."

After a brief discussion, Hargrove proposed the incremented funding, which passed without opposition. Build This Town is expected to break ground in April.

Supervising editor is Tynan Stewart.

  • Spring 2019 Advanced Public Life reporter. I am a senior studying international journalism. You can reach me at (860) 576-0203 or with any tips or comments.

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