Berrywood Forest Preservation

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COLUMBIA - Residents in the Woodridge neighborhood said Thursday a potential deal between the city and a private buyer could save a nearby small forest from development. Berrywood Forest backs up to Woodridge on the east side of Columbia.

The 11-acre lot was rezoned in July of 2008 to allow for construction of an assisted care facility. Lack of funding caused construction delays, and the property was foreclosed on in early 2010.

The Woodridges homeowners assocation has protested any development for years. Many residents are happy with the city's deal. They hope the city can move forward with the purchase and the promise to protect the lot as a nature preserve. According to the residents, the property would become Columbia's first "urban forest preserve."  

"It's a hidden treasure," resident Barbara Stock said.

Residents say the forest serves as a buffer zone between a nearby strip of medical buildings and the homes. Many say they also enjoy having nature so nearby. Many cite the need to protect the many species of native plants and trees that inhabit the area as well as the Hinkson Creek watershed.

"There are deer there and they like to come and snack on our gardens. But, we can put up with that because they need some place to live. And, I think it would be a wonderful thing to protect and save that for our neighborhood," said Stock.

The property is currently listed for $1.1 million dollars, but the city is trying to get the price lowered to $300,00 or $400,000.

Columbia's third ward councilman, Gary Kespohl, is leading the purchase deal. He refused to comment Thursday because he said the behind the scenes negotiations are still early and delicate.

Link to Woodridge residents' advocacy website.