COLUMBIA — When Sandy Groves moved into her house on the south side of East St. Charles Road 15 years ago, her home was one of six on her block.
From her living room window, she could see an open field with a barn.
Now, Groves' house stands near about 25 other residences, and when she looks out her back window she sees Battle High School.
“There were cows where the school is,” Groves said of the days before all the new development in the area.
Along with the high school and nearby Battle Elementary School, Groves' neighborhood also is home to the city's new Battle Avenue Park. For now, the 30-acre property remains vacant. That will change if voters approve a six-year extension of the one-eighth-cent sales tax for parks on Nov. 3.
The Columbia Parks and Recreation Department is promising an estimated $320,000 worth of development projects on the land, which lies north of Battle High and east of Battle Elementary. Park amenities could include shelters, playgrounds, basketball courts and practice fields, city officials say.
Groves said she supports the parks sales tax renewal for many reasons. She believes the development of Battle Avenue Park will create a community gathering place and give kids in the growing neighborhood a safe place to play.
Many families with young children have moved into the Battle area, but Groves said that for now the only place to play is in the streets, which are dangerous.
“These families are coming out here and filling these schools,” Groves said. “But there’s nothing out here for all these kids.”
If renewed, the sales tax would generate $18.4 million over six years , which would be used for projects in 32 existing parks and to acquire new property for parks, trails and green space.
Groves said the renewal of the tax and the development of the park will be good for the growing Battle neighborhood.
"This is such an up-and-coming area," she said. "I'm surprised they didn't do it sooner."
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.