Proposed African-American heritage trail route

The recommendation for establishing an  African-American Heritage Trail was unanimously approved Thursday night by the Columbia Parks and Recreation Commission. The commission also recommended acquiring necessary easements for the trail's completion.

The current plan for the trail includes 28 historic locations, each with its own significance to African-American history in Columbia.

The original plan for the trail stretched from the MKT Nature and Fitness Trail at Stewart Road and Providence Road to as far as Business Loop 70, but "in an effort to keep an actual walking trail, we kind of narrowed it down to this two-mile path," Park Services Manager Gabe Huffington said at  the meeting.

The trail is continuous except between the historical marker at Stewart Road Bridge and Columbia Cemetery. A path would need to be created next to the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house, according to Huffington.

For the trail to be constructed, the commission needs "an easement from the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity," Huffington said. Director of Parks and Recreation Mike Griggs said the easement will need to be brought to Columbia City Council. 

In May 2015, a historic marker was dedicated to the once-thriving black business district called Sharp End. The Sharp End Heritage Committee worked to commemorate the district that was largely demolished by the city's urban renewal plan in the late 1950s. 

Almost a year after the installation of the Sharp End historic marker, the Parks and Recreation Department solidified a plan to work with the Sharp End Heritage Committee to "to gradually mark sites on and formalize an African-American Heritage Trail."

The department agreed to install and maintain any additional historic markers from the Sharp End Heritage Committee, as long as they are privately funded and in the public right-of-way. The Sharp End historical marker was privately funded by Veterans United Home Loans.

Supervising editor is Gary Garrison.

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