Columbia Could Take Over 4 Miles of MKT Trail

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COLUMBIA - City and county officials met Monday to discuss the possible city take over of the 4-mile county-managed stretch of the MKT trail.

Columbia Parks and Recreation Director Mike Griggs said the possible switch of management could improve management of the whole trail.

"Well first of all, it's customer service," Griggs said. "Right now, people ask us and call us up and say, well there's a tree down or there's a wash-up area out on the trail and we have to ask them, alright well is it west of Scott Boulevard or east of Scott Boulevard? And then they'll say 'well it's on the right-hand side of Scott Boulevard.'  So then we have to figure out exactly where it is So, the citizens get a little frustrated when they can't accurately say where its at and then we have to contact the county maintenance guys."

Currently, the 4 miles of trail west of Scott Boulevard is managed by Boone County with the city managing the 4.7 miles of trail east of Scott Boulevard. Mike Griggs said the cons of the takeover would be an addition of about 4 miles needing increased maintenance because of high flooding.

"We've worked hard on keeping up ours section of the trail. We would want to make sure we aren't taking something that has a lot of deferred maintenance. I don't think the county has done that, I think it's in really good shape; I've been on it several times. They just don't have a parks and rec department. So that's just it, they don't have that budget; they don't have that to do it. I think we would want to look at it and make sure the city isn't taking something on that's a burden to the taxpayers."

The city is asking the county for $100,000 for long-term maintenance and refurbishment of the trail and to take the land of its hands. The $100,000 would go toward new mile markers, trail improvements, water fountain installations and sign improvements. District 1 County Commissioner Karen Miller said the yearly fees for maintaining the trail total roughly $20,000 so county officials would need to deliberate about whether the deal would work out. Miller went on to say, the county is grateful for the willingness of Columbia Parks and Recreation in considering the deal.

City manager Mike Matthes said the city is open to discussion about the switch of management in the coming months.