Changing CoMo: Survey Shows Split Opinions on Beautification

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COLUMBIA - The city of Columbia has been constantly growing throughout the past 10 years. Additionally, MU's move to the SEC has attracted tourists and brought in revenue to the city. KOMU 8 News took a look at what efforts the city is making towards beautifying the city. We asked viewers if they thought CoMo should spend money on beautifying the city and also what changes  they want to see.

Respondents' suggestions focused on three central themes - infrastructure, schools and crime. However, there were a few outliers as well.

In the survey, 71 percent of the respondents said they do not feel Columbia should have spent money to beautify the city as part of MU's move to the Southeastern Conference. This compares to 29 percent who thought the expenditures were a good investment.

Should Columbia have spent money to beautify the city as part of MU's move to the SEC?

Respondents who believe money should not be spent on beautifying pointed to other areas in need of improvement.

A female between the age of 41 and 55 said funds should focus on road improvements, "We need to spend money on streets etc., not trying to make it pretty for visitors."

Another woman of the same age group agreed, saying, "I think we need to focus on what is already here - like the roads!!! The striping is terrible and the potholes - not to mention the traffic congestion areas!!!"

A man between 41 and 55 said any and all infrastructure should come first: "Fix infrastructure and do away with the frilly things."

Overall, most people in all categories of gender, age and income said infrastructure is more pertinent than art.

Curbing crime was also commonly cited as a better investment.

A participant in the 62 and older age range, who chose not identify as male or female said, "Money should have been spent on police and ridding the gangs and crime instead of art."

A woman between the ages of 41 and 55 said: "Keep it clean, get some people who can clear the snow in a timely manner, get a few more police officers to handle the crime ridden areas in town and make it so that people can take pride in beautifying their own space. Less crime and people with pride in their city would go much further."

Several respondants said the funds shouls be put toward Columbia Public Schools.

A woman between the age of 19 and 23 said, "The city of Columbia should put their money in things that would help the community/schools rather than art projects."

A woman between the age of 24 and 30 agreed, saying Columbia Public Schools needs more buses.

Respondents also suggested reducing poverty levels, improving snow removal and creating a museum district.

In the survey, KOMU 8 News asked viewers if Columbia should continue to spend money on beautification efforts. Of those who answered, 54 percent said yes and 46 percent said no.

Should Columbia continue to spend money on beautification improvements?

When KOMU 8 News asked what kind of improvements viewers do want to see around Columbia, the answers ranged from more green space to fountains to road improvements.

What beautification efforts have you seen?

One woman, age 41-55, commented, "I'd like to see the gateway projects at Stadium and I-70 and Stadium and 63. and probably Providence. Downtown is pretty well defined."

A 19-23 year old woman said, "I think first and foremost the roads need fixing. To many potholes, and center lines that don't match. I know it's frustrating for residents, much less visitors that aren't used to the ‘quirky' roads we have."

One response focused on the downtown construction, including more student apartment complexes. "Stop building high rise apartments in down town Columbia FIRST. Then focus on natural green spaces, trees and plants," said the person who choose not to identify their gender but said they are 62 or older.

Other respondents suggested fountains for the downtown area or art projects done by local artists to represent Columbia.

In January, KOMU 8 reported about the city's plans for the Downtown Columbia Gateway Project, which included large sculptures at the intersection of Broadway and Providence Road.

The reaction to that story led the decision to ask viewers about their opinions on beautification efforts in the city, including those sculptures. KOMU 8 News posted a survey on the website and Facebook page, allowing viewers to participate.

A 19-23 year old woman who took the survey said she wanted the city to maintain downtown's character. "Let's fix the roads first. Or the apartments that are collapsing. Why put an expensive, tacky, cookie cutter statue downtown when downtown has so many unique, quirky places? Get some local artists to design a statue if we have to have one. I think people would be more keen on the idea if it didn't look like some giant corporate statue and actually stood for the community and it's values."

The survey had 124 responses when it closed on April 6.

The ages of respondents varied, but 32 percent fell within the age range of 41-55 years old. Twenty-one percent were 31-40 and 19 percent were 24-30.

Fifty-six percent of respondents identified as female, 38 percent identified as male, and six percent chose to not identify as either.

Of the respondents, 23 percent had a yearly household income of $36,000 to $50,000. Twenty percent of respondents had an income of $71,000 to $100,000 and 16 percent made between $51,000 and $70,000 a year.