Revised report shows downtown Columbia needs improvements

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COLUMBIA - The Downtown Columbia Leadership Council met Tuesday and finalized revisions to the infrastructure report.

The report urges the Columbia City Council to see the need for infrastructure improvements downtown as well as the need for infrastructure funding.

Brent Gardner, the Downtown Leadership Council chair, and Nick Peckham, Infrastructure Committee chair, said in a letter to the Columbia City Council there is a disconnect between infrastructure needs and infrastructure funding. Infrastructure needs include "hard infrastructure," such as the storm sewers, sanitary sewers and water service, while "soft infrastructure" includes fire and police protection, public health and public schools.

While the Downtown Columbia Leadership Council is reporting the infrastructure problem and suggesting solutions, exactly how the city will deal with the infrastructure problem is not part of the report.

"If downtown Columbia over the next five years were to get as much new construction over the last five years, it might put more strain on the physical infrastructure than it can handle," said Peckham.

The Mayor and the city council asked the Downtown Columbia Leadership Council to work on Columbia's infrastructure issues in April. While certain decisions were made and approved, two citizen petitions to repeal downtown development and a temporary restraining order on the city prevented further action on development.

"If in the last 35 years the population has doubled, then quite possibility is that in the next 35 years we'll double again which would take us up to almost 250 thousand people," Peckham said.

Columbia has seen an almost 2 percent increase in population every year since 2010 but a total of almost 40 percent change since 2000 according to both the United States Census Bureau and

"This makes Columbia a different place and presents challenges for all aspects community life, whether it's law enforcement or fire protection, education or road maintenance or pipes and wire types of infrastructure."