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KBIA's Civics Desk covers issues of local and state government, including the University of Missouri System.

City of Columbia to consider new sidewalk regulations

In a relatively short meeting last night, three of  seven non-consent agenda  items considered by the Columbia City Council pertained to sidewalks, bringing to light the sometimes conflicting views that could lead the city to reevaluate its sidewalk regulations.

First was the proposed construction of a sidewalk on Bernadette Drive about which Mayor Bob McDavid said it was "kind of embarrassing" that a sidewalk did not already exist on the city owned property. The measure passed unanimously.

But minutes later the council voted 5 to 2 to grant a variance to a regulation that would have required a sidewalk be included in the construction of a new home in the Old Southwest neighborhood.

Third Ward Council Member Karl Skala was one of the five council members who voted to grant the variance, saying "I'm sympathetic to the plight of suggesting that there's a sidewalk to nowhere.

And a third bill repealed an ordinance that had erroneously required easements for sidewalk improvements due to a clerical error.

"We have hundreds of miles of streets with no sidewalk on them," City Manager Mike Matthes said. 

Demand for those sidewalks exists, he said, but added, "we didn't build them when we built the houses so now who's gonna pay for it?"

To that end Matthes said city staff will prepare a report of potential models for the council to review after the December Holidays.

A curious Columbia, Mo. native, Bram Sable-Smith has documented mbira musicians in Zimbabwe, mining protests in Chile, and the St. Louis airport's tumultuous relationship with the Chinese cargo business. His reporting from Ferguson, Mo. was part of a KBIA documentary honored by the Missouri Broadcasters Association and winner of a national Edward R. Murrow Award. He comes to KBIA most recently from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine.