When the sun rose on Saturday in Columbia, the lot adjacent to Dave Griggs' Flooring America on the Business Loop was little to marvel at, nothing more than fresh pavement. But by the end of the day, over 80 adult volunteers and dozens of children from across Columbia would turn the Boone Electric-owned lot into a brand new 45-by-70-feet urban park.
The park pop-up was a joint effort between the Loop Community Improvement District, which provided all of the supplies for the project, and ForColumbia, which sent volunteers from three community churches: Trinity Community Church, LegacyPoint Church and The Crossing.
By 11 a.m. Saturday, volunteers were scattered across the lot working on different projects. Some climbed ladders and drilled holes in posts for the string lights that would serve as after-dark illumination. Some painted shipping containers — one, a pastel blue, will be used as storage for supplies, and the other, a pastel yellow, will be used as a stage.
Adults led younger children in painting rocks in a magnitude of shades that will be dispersed throughout the park. Older children helped plant flowers, herbs and vines in large silver tubs that line the park. Others assembled picnic tables, lawn games and other fun and functional outdoor furniture. In the middle of it all, AstroTurf was laid out to make the black asphalt feel a little more green.
Jeremy Linneman, 34, a pastor at Trinity, served as the site coordinator.
"I've always been interested in the Business Loop because I think it has a lot of potential for renewal and revival," he said.
He's met with Carrie Gartner, the Business Loop Community Improvement District director, about how his church could be involved with community service on the Business Loop. She had the idea of the pop-up park for a while but needed either a lot of funding to get the work paid for or a ton of volunteers to come together. ForColumbia proved to be the right opportunity to rally volunteers around the project.
"A lot of the idea was if we have volunteers come out and do all this work they're gonna be more likely to come back and use the park," Linneman said. "The kids can say, 'This is my rock,' or 'I helped plant that bush,' or whatever it is. So there's more of a sense of ownership."
And the name that everybody involved agreed on? The Community Pop-Up Park.
"It's creating, you know, safe, fun, inviting spaces for people," said Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas.
So many volunteers helped that the park was finished earlier than expected. The end-time was set at 4 p.m., but by 3:15 p.m., all volunteers had gone home. All that was left was the park.
Gartner said that people really pitched in Saturday, and she felt like there was much support for the Business Loop.
The park is scheduled to stay open for about six months, when its 180-day permit ends. After, everything will be packed up and hopefully used again next year.
Supervising editor is Kaleigh Feldkamp.