City scouts trail to see how much it'll owe nonprofit

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COLUMBIA - On Tuesday, city officials and community members walked a proposed trail to see what the compensation will be. The money will be given to the nonprofit, It’s Our Wild Nature, who owns the area where the trail will be.

The city acquired an easement through the property meaning it wouldn’t own the area, but would have right of way, according to Ken Midkiff, a friend of the nonprofit.

Sutu Forte, the chair of It’s Our Wild Nature, and others involved with the nonprofit, said they don’t want to see a trail here at all. 

“I want them to appreciate what’s going to be destroyed because of this unnecessary trail,” Forte said.

Another member, Barb Wren, agrees.

“They’re going to come in here with thousands of feet of concrete and tear down just to the small trail, 44 valuable trees,” Wren said.

She said the area's landscape is priceless to the city.

“It’s helping with the storm water runoff and the flood waters and the air pollution,” Wren said. 

Those in the organization came to protest the trail, but also to make sure the group is properly compensated. 

“I felt it is my civic duty to do what I can to make the outcome the best it can be,” Wren said. 

Midkiff said this is mandatory. 

“Any time private property is impacted by something, in this case, the city of Columbia is doing, they are entitled to be compensated,” Midkiff said. 

Not everyone is against the plan. Sarah Ashman, the store manager of Walt’s Bike Shop, is excited for the trail.

“That particular trail is a really important connector,” Ashman said. “It connects pieces of town that weren’t connected before.” 

She said it is also important for bicyclists' safety. 

“A lot of cyclists aren’t okay with going on busy roads,” Ashman said. “This is a much safer way to travel.”

The Columbia City Council approved the plans in 2018. Brian Adkisson, communications manager for the city, said this has been a part of the Parks Department master plan for a while now.

“It’s important for connectivity of an overall trail system,” Adkisson said. 

He said he isn’t sure when they will know what the compensation will be.