Columbia Explores Growth
Karl Skala and Jerry Wade called for a closer examination of the pace of growth in the city. The new council members say Columbia needs to slow down and take a good look at the costs and benefits of growth.
Both say they're ready to build Columbia from the inside out, meaning the focus should be on the downtown area first. Skala and Wade liken building Columbia to building a house saying it needs a strong foundation and framework before the rest of the house, or city, can develop.
"We have to make sure that downtown is high on the priority list," Skala said.
Skala believes the center and the foundation for future growth should start with downtown. Some council members say the resources downtown are already in place to be developed like the former home of the 9th Street Bookstore. According to Skala, developers don't need to look on the outskirts of town to develop Columbia.
"If we did that smartly, it could save the developers money, the tax payers money and make us much better off," Skala said.
Many residents voiced the same opinion at the Columbia visionary meeting Wednesday night. Some worry about the long term effects of possible urban sprawl.
"It's difficult to have public transportation going out to the areas that are away from the center of town. You have to have a fairly high density to make public transportation work," said Ben Londeree of the Boone County Smart Growth Coalition.
With forseeable problems such as transportation, citizens rely on the new council to make the right decisions.
"With this council, now, there'll be an attempt to be more responsible in the way growth occurs," Londeree said.
Both Skala and Wade say downtown revitalization will be a lengthy process.