Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Business owners float proposal for new ‘greenway’ along COLT railroad

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A coalition of business owners has created a draft proposal for a new park and trail in north central Columbia, and the city’s Bike and Pedestrian Commission learned about the proposal at its meeting Wednesday night.

The proposal calls for a ‘greenway’ between Park Avenue, just south of Rogers Street, to the pedestrian bridge over Business Loop 70.

A greenway is a trail designed to incorporate conservation and other amenities.

The proposal asks Mayor Barbara Buffaloe and Columbia City Council to convert a section of the Columbia Terminal railroad “into a community-focused greenway park and trail.”

A separate, proposed city project to build a trail along the COLT railroad between Columbia College and Brown Station Park would complement the greenway project. That trail is funded by a 2021 Park Sales Tax, according to the proposal.

The greenway would start at the planned North Village Park, which the Columbia City Council approved in March. The proposal says a greenway would foster economic development and support neighboring communities. 

“As a benefit it would provide an accessible park and trail to lower income neighborhoods,” the proposal reads. “It would connect, enhance, and foster additional growth in the Arcade, Stockyards, and North Village Arts districts.”

It proposes council form a committee to help develop the plan. The letter includes the names of people purportedly interested in serving on a committee and helping with fundraising. This includes John Ott and Gardell Powell, owners of ‘The Stockyards’ business area. The Stockyards include businesses like Walt’s Bike Shop and Ozark Mountain Biscuit and Bar. Former Columbia Council Member’s name Pat Fowler is also listed. 

Ripped up railroad tracks and overgrown weeds fill the COLT railroad corridor next to the Stockyards. That portion of the tracks are no longer in use. The city already removed the tracks which crossed Rogers Street.

“The rail tracks are ugly and detract from the adjacent residential and commercial areas,” the draft proposal said. 

The proposal asks the city to railbank the corridor using the federal Rails-To-Trails process. This would save the corridor for future rail use, if needed. The proposal also includes the following:

  • Remove the track and rock ballast from Rogers Street to Business Loop 70.
  • Construct a trail and landscape with art work, trees, benches, and playgrounds.
  • Provide access to adjacent retail, commercial and residential properties.
  • Include a pedway connector to the North Village Park and Bike Boulevard.

The proposal is still in its draft phase and needs to go before City Council before receiving approval.

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