Wetlands project

A new wetlands project will help reduce flooding and add passive recreation to the MKT Trail near Scott Boulevard.

COLUMBIA — The Columbia City Council voted on the MKT Wetlands project, updates to the proposed Cherry Street Hotel and funding for retailers that sell garbage bags on Monday.

MKT Wetlands Project

The proposal passed unanimously.

The MKT Wetlands project is expected to cost $120,000 with $80,000 of the funds coming from park sales tax. Tom and Ann Smith made a $40,000 donation in memory of their son.

The project is expected to be completed by winter 2022, and it will create two wetland ponds, as well as additional smaller trails.

Mike Griggs, Director of Parks and Planning for Columbia, spoke about the project. It includes about a half mile of gravel trail, one mile of mowed-grass trails, wooden boardwalks and benches along the pools. The pools would be 2.9 and 6.7 square acres, respectively. All this is in an effort to ease flooding in the area. Griggs made it clear the developments would not be able to totally stop the flooding.

Cherry Street Hotel

The council members also dealt with four bills related to the proposed Cherry Street Hotel.

The council unanimously approved three of the bills that dealt with the construction and development of the Cherry Street Hotel. A fourth bill related to parking was tabled until next month.

Multiple council members and members of the public spoke against the plan, which asks for 99 parking spots from the city parking garage at 10th and Cherry. Of those spots, 68 would be taken away from permit holders, 31 would be taken away from hourly spots. 

"I'm sorry that these rich people bought such a small space that they can't build a garage on it," one person said. "And I'm sorry that they're not going to make enough money without taking some of what the citizens have built for themselves, but that's the truth of the matter."

Jack Cardetti, spokesman for the Cherry Street Hotel developers, took several questions from the council. He pointed out multiple times that the project is not asking for any tax-increment financing, otherwise known as public subsidies, unlike the developments of the Tiger Hotel and Broadway Hotel. One council member pointed out that even though they were not asking for public money directly, they were still asking for parking spaces that are worth money.

In addition, Glyn Laverick, the owner and developer of the Tiger Hotel, came forward to defend itself against what Cardetti was saying. Laverick pointed out the Tiger Hotel waited their turn for parking permits, got them for more money than what the Cherry Hotel would be getting them for, and that Mayor Treece may have a conflict of interest with the Cherry Street Hotel.

Jonathan Odle, who is the developer for the Cherry Street Hotel, donated $20,000 to Mayor Treece's campaign through another LLC he is a part of. The Columbia Missourian reported this back in 2019.

"And one final thing," Laverick said, "given that the mayor has received some $20,000 dollars from related companies to the Odles, will he be recusing himself from the vote this evening in light of the clear conflict that exists?"

"No," replied Treece.

The issue of parking for the Cherry Street Hotel is set to be revisited at the city council meeting on August 16.

Refuse and Recycling Vouchers

The council approved allowing retailers to receive financial compensation for distributing refuse and recycling bag vouchers. The compensation is $0.25 per voucher redeemed at the 10 retailers in Columbia.

According to agenda notes, an expected $25,250 would be redeemed during the rest of the 2021 fiscal year by retailers.