Columbia begins review of improvement projects

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COLUMBIA - On Monday, The Columbia City Council began reviewing the list of capital improvement projects budgeted for 2018.

The complete list of improvement projects planned throughout the city totals more than 50 million dollars. 

Among the projects proposed, Columbia Regional Airport projects add up to more than $9 million dollars. Some of the major projects include regular maintenance, adding a new terminal complex, and pavement maintenance on runway 2-20. 

Airport manager Mike Parks said 90 percent of these improvements are paid for by the Federal Aviation Administration, and the remaining 10 percent is funded by the city's transportation sales tax. 

By expanding runway 2-20 by 900 feet, airport managers hope to bring more people to Columbia. 

“Lengthening the runway makes it available for larger aircraft whether that is private aircraft or commercial aircraft, also makes it available for charter aircraft as well with increased heat and stuff like that,” Parks said. 

Beginning in August, the Columbia Regional Airport will increase flights to Chicago, Dallas, and Denver. 

“It’s an economic benefit to the whole mid-Missouri region. All the mid-Missouri are travelers here have seen the benefit of traveling to major hubs here across the country and having connections throughout the world,” Parks said. 

The possible economic benefit of these improvements was echoed by Columbia Parks and Recreation Director Michael Griggs. 

“The benefit of that is not only with our users, for Columbia citizens. It will also help us attract tournaments, so we have that economic impact on the weekends of bringing people from out of town in Columbia to stay in our hotels, shop at our restaurants, and go shopping at the stores,” Griggs said. 

Parks and Recreation projects total more than $3 million dollars, including improving baseball and softball fields at the Antimi complex, building a new sports field house and maintaining 911 trail phone replacements. 

Griggs explained these projects were planned back in 2015. While the department has an operating budget, Griggs said it doesn't pay for a lot of maintenance needs. 

“When it comes to Parks and Recreation, a lot of our funds and parks sales tax are dedicated to kind of major maintenance and renovations and improvements to existing parks, but as Columbia grows we have to anticipate that growth, so we have to start looking ahead and providing facilities for new citizens," Griggs said.

Other improvement projects proposed include: 

 - A new Police precinct budgeted at $8 million dollars

 - A roundabout at Vandiver and Parker budgeted at $382,500 

 - More's Lake Restoration budgeted at $2 million dollars

 - Sewer system improvements budgeted at $1 million dollars 

Monday's meeting was the first of three meetings for the public to hear the proposals and give their input. 

Citizens can also voice concerns after the budget process when the details of each project seek approval. 

“There’s also times for the citizens to come back as we bring these individual projects to council, for example whenever we do the public hearing on the Antimi softball, baseball complex renovation, we’ll have another public hearing on that and so there will be more opportunity for people to get into details of the project," Griggs said.