North Columbia meeting

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COLUMBIA – Residents, city officials and other interested parties gave input Tuesday night on design concepts for a police substation to be built in north Columbia.

As part of the city's strategic action plan, the substation is to double as a municipal services building to help address residents' needs.

The city held the meeting at Grace Bible Church to gauge what those needs are. 

Sophia Smith, a north Columbia resident, said she was concerned about the lack of recreational space for children in the complex. 

“We're just asking them to add additional to the community room so we can use it as a community,” Smith said.

The community area in question, in its current form, would be 1,200-1,300 square feet and be able to seat 65 with tables. There wouldn't be a kitchen and storage space would be limited.

The architects hired by the city presented preliminary floor plans for the substation but nothing has been finalized.

Columbia Police Department Deputy Chief Jill Schlude said the department is working with space requirements and budget constraints.

“I think the spaces you see identified on here are pretty much the 'have to have' space,” Schlude said.

She and Smith both said the dialogue would continue with city officials and architects to reach a compromise.

Residents also suggested regularly scheduled youth events at the substation and a "wall of fame" for north Columbia youth who are succeeding in school and life. 

Construction on the substation is scheduled to begin in late 2018 and the city expects it will take two years to complete.

In a press release, the city estimated the building will cost $9.7 million and will house almost half of the department’s patrol officers and equipment.

Columbia purchased 8.55 acres at the southeastern corner of Range Line Street and International Drive for the substation in 2016, at a cost of about $485,000.

The project is being paid for by the quarter-cent capital improvement sales tax that voters renewed in 2015. 

The city will open bidding for the construction contract once any changes from the input have been finalized.