Douglass Park renovating to decrease crime

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COLUMBIA - Douglass Park will undergo renovation until its expected finish date in summer 2015.

Douglass Park just opened it's new parking lot Monday and will continue demolition of the old one in the middle of the park throughout the week.  This renovation was prompted by neighbors of the park. 

Mike Griggs of Columbia's Parks and Recreation said neighbors felt that, "the people hanging out in the middle of the park are the problem. They don't live in Columbia, they just show up."

Discussion of the renovation began a few years ago. Griggs explained that there is more to these renovations than just crime prevention. "Douglass is a very small park for serving such a large community," Griggs said. "It is a neighborhood park and a community park. It doesn't have much open space for people to use, so by getting rid of the parking lot it allows more opportunity for kids to play."

Griggs said he hopes these renovations reverse the reputation Douglass Park carries with it now. In addition to providing more space for grass where kids can play, Griggs says the new parking lot location is essential in keeping the park-goers safe and accountable. "It moves all the cars to the edge of the park," Griggs sad. "So traffic and vehicles are on the edge, so everyone can see what's going on."

In addition to the new parking lot, the renovation plans include an amphitheater. Columbia Parks and Recreation also noted that there are environmental improvements that were made during the renovation as well. The total budget is $100,000, and the project was approved by the Columbia City Council in December 2013.