Columbia Parks Enterprise

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COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia currently has more than 70 parks, and that number is steadily increasing. Assistant Director of Columbia Parks and Recreation Mike Griggs said the city usually has five new park projects underway at a time.

"We'll acquire five neighborhood parks over a five-year period, so basically one a year. Then we try to develop five neighborhood parks over that same five-year period," Griggs said.

New parks are a part of Columbia Parks and Recreation's ten-year master plan. Griggs said the department spends most of its money on maintaining current parks. 

"If we are generating $2 million a year out of the park sales tax, over a million of that is on maintaining the picnic shelters, re-doing the playgrounds, maintaining what we have," Griggs said, "Then, we have probably another half a million that we set aside for neighborhood parks. The idea is that we are spending about $100,000 to develop a neighborhood park."

One of the new parks on the city's "to-do" list is a playground and park area at Jay Dix Station on Scott Boulevard. The question is: are new parks worth the money? Analise Murphy has lived in Columbia for nine years and said it is money well-spent. 

"This area has built up a ton in the past couple years and there's new neighborhoods in both directions so having a park kind of in the middle of everything would be nice," Murphy said.

Other local park users agree, but one said there are some aspects that are concerning.

"The park system has been wonderful in Columbia. I think it attracts people here," Larry Schauwecker said, "The only issue I really have maybe would be the parking. I don't know how much playground equipment they're going to put in but there could be a problem with parking and people backing in and out it could be dangerous for small kids."

Dan White also uses the Jay Dix Station trail area frequently and said the location could be dangerous for children. 

"I think depending on how many activities they have over there and the size of it, we could have a little bit of a pedestrian, or child pedestrian, issue along Scott Boulevard because it's a real busy road," White said, "There are people and kids walking in that bicycle lane because of the apartments that are just north of this proposed park."

Griggs said Columbia Parks and Recreation's goal is to complete the Jay Dix Station park by fall of 2013.