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'Columbia Imagined' forum focuses on downtown 'density'

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The “density” of Columbia’s downtown areas was a key topic emerging from the fourth phase of the city’s public-input program known as “Columbia Imagined.” A slightly smaller crowd than usual gathered at Columbia city hall last night (Tuesday) to discuss the fourth phase of the planning program. Called “Where are we headed?” the discussion drew Columbia community development planners and a crowd of about 20 participants to discuss possible options for Columbia’s growth.

During the meeting, residents discussed housing and commercial options for new development. John Clark is a Columbia resident and long-time participant in city politics. He says he thinks the committee should be focusing on what he calls the foundations rather than far-reaching goals: "We need to have this growth rate discussion up front so we’ve got some kind of reach. And then we look at these arrangements," he said.

A topic of contention among those in attendance was the definition of density, especially in the downtown area. Columbia’s community development team members said they would work to set a clearer definition of the term, and showed slides of birds-eye views of several different density areas at the meeting. Last night’s (Tuesday) meeting was the second of phase four, which city planners hope will be finished by late summer. There are six phases in the program.