Boone Co. coalition to evaluate health concerns stemming from urban growth

May 3, 2012

The Boone County Smart Growth Coalition is planning a Health Impact Assessment to evaluate the effects of urban growth on public health.

The Health Impact Assessment would survey various parts of the Columbia community on quality of life. Coalition chair Karl Skala says the public health assessment would influence the group’s planning for urban growth in Columbia.

“So for example, they’ll be asking questions about, is the bus system available, are the parks adequate, how much walking do you do?" Skala said.

The Smart Growth Coalition is part of a national group that tries to guide local development according to a set of 10 goals. For Boone County, these goals include walkable neighborhoods, green building and environmental preservation.

 “So a lot of our membership serve on city boards or commissions – I do, on several – or as city council members," Skala said.

At a meeting last night, the coalition also discussed how to incorporate its goals into Columbia’s Comprehensive Plan. Coalition vice chair Jo Sapp serves on the task force that is drafting the plan. She says she would like to make information on the plan more accessible to the public.

“Originally, all of our stuff was on the city website and nobody could find it. I mean, even we on the task force couldn’t find what we were looking for," Sapp said.

The coalition would need to get a variety of local government groups on board for the Health Impact Assessment before it’s put it into action.