Grid List Whitegate Residents could see a park in their area

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COLUMBIA - A park is in the works for residents at Whitegate Drive. 

The Parks and Recreation Department is asking the Columbia City Council to spend $250,000 on 2.24 acres at the corner of Whitegate Drive and Towne Drive.

The owners of the property, Columbia Insurance Group, valued the land at $490,000 before negotiation.

The city is requesting the council to buy the land using money from parks sale tax.

If the plan is approved, the park will include a playground, walking trail, basketball court and shelter.

Whitegate resident John Johnson said the idea would be great for the kids in the community.

"I think a park gonna be great for the kids and the adults to be able to take the kids, a lot of times we gotta lotta kids in the streets and stuff like that so a park right now, or at any point, would be good for everybody," said Johnson.

Johnson also said it can help with crime.

"Its gonna keep kids out of trouble, its gonna get the area with more people in it because people are gonna wanna come to the park," Johnson said. 

In the last three months, there has been three reports of people being threatened or robbed at gunpoint on Whitegate Drive, according to the Columbia Police Department reported. 

Johnson has only been a resident for six months and has already witnessed a couple crimes, he said. 

"It's got its good days and bad like most, can be better. Since I've only been over here for six months, but since I've been over here it's been a couple shootings over here."

Austin Tipton, a long-time resident of Whitegate Drive, disagrees.

Tipton said the idea is great for kids, but doesn't fix his community's problems.

"I don't know if the park is the answer, Tipton said. "I just don't know if that's the answer for reducing crime." 

Tipton said what the area really needs is someone to do something about the area's crime rate.

"We're a forgotten part of town unless there's a shooting or something going on," Tipton said. "Our City Council doesn't even come by until it's time to run for reelection, and then he'll show up and knock on every door and he stays away from us. So, how can the City Council have any concern when we can't even get our own representative to speak out and say something?" 

The council will take a vote Tuesday night on whether or not to buy land for a new park.