Columbia City Council Approves Grindstone Trail Extension

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council approved a plan to begin the first phase of an extension to the Grindstone Creek Nature Trail at a meeting Monday night.

The council moved the plan forward despite opposition from several residents, as debate over the extension took up about three hours of meeting time. Some residents said they felt as though the trail was being forced on them.

The city's park sales tax will fund the extension and city officials project it will cost about $1.75 million to build. The trail will extend from its current terminus at Old 63 to Maguire Boulevard just north of Lemone Industrial Boulevard, an extension of about two miles.

Annette Triplett, the Executive Director of Columbia's PedNet Coalition, supported the plan and billed it as a way to connect Columbia's growing east side to the extensive trail network that envelops the rest of the city.

The city estimates the extension will bring the trail system to an area with 5,000 residents and 3,000 jobs.

"It's a huge opportunity for the east side of the city to be connected to the downtown area, campus, all the colleges and universities here, lots of business," Triplett said.

The Columbia City Council approved the plan by a vote of 6-1 Monday, enabling the city to hire a contractor and begin work on the trail.

Residents spoke out about the trail for a variety of reasons. One resident said the city should take care of other trail infrastructure before building new trails. Some residents opposed the trail for environmental reasons, saying it would cause workers to tear down 60-year-old trees.