Columbia bicentennial task force to hold first meeting since the pandemic
COLUMBIA — On Thursday, the CoMo200 Bicentennial Task Force will host its first public meeting since Feb. 27.
The mayor-established task force began monthly meetings in early 2018 to allow the community to sit in on and give input for the city's bicentennial celebrations in the works for 2021.
"At the February meeting, there wasn't a quorum, so we weren't able to conduct any official business," Megan McConachie, a city staff liaison to the task force, said. "Our last official meeting with a quorum was in January."
McConachie said that there was an open house to update the public on Mar. 12, but that there hasn't been any official progress since the pandemic began.
The current plan is to have a series of smaller events leading up to the main event on Jun. 12, 2021. The pandemic has changed what that might look like.
"We will be, hopefully, planning some events that may in-person and that may be virtual throughout the winter and spring as well before we get to that final bicentennial event," McConachie said.
McConachie said the task force will discuss how to raise funds for some of the planned events, but it has been difficult to find sponsors since the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on the local economy.
"A lot of it will depend on fundraising and sponsors," McConachie said. "Since the pandemic has affected the economy really significantly, that's been an additional challenge for us."
The task force is not only looking to raise money for future events, but also looking to create an expansion of Flat Branch Park that will lead into a Gateway Plaza on the corner of Broadway Blvd. and Providence Rd.
The District Downtown, the community improvement district, is mostly in charge of the designs for the plaza that will include public art installations, such as large letters that spell out the word "Columbia."
"The District is working with the city on coming up with a permanent lease on that land, on the corner there, so that they can start building the 'Columbia' lettering," Columbia Parks & Recreation director Mike Griggs said.
Columbia Parks and Recreation has been helping the task force come up with ways to connect Flat Branch Park and the Gateway Plaza with a an affordable bridge design.
"We're working with the task force on trying to come up with a good bridge design, overlook design, that's flexible — that's still within a budget price item that they can raise funds for," Griggs said.
The District and Columbia Parks and Rec are working together to make sure the transition from the park to the plaza comes together in time for the bicentennial celebration.
"The goal is to make sure that the Gateway Plaza, the Flat Branch Park, and the Flat Branch Park that's already there all look as one planned, developed park," Griggs said.
The meeting will begin Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at The ARC on 1701 W. Ash Street. The City of Columbia has released the full agenda on its website.
The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 27.