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Columbia City Council approves downtown construction, considers infrastructure projects

The Columbia City Council voted to keep taxi stands on local streets.
The Columbia City Council voted to keep taxi stands on local streets.

  The construction of the Avenue of the Columns streetscape along Eighth Street will move forward with an estimated $750,000 of city funding.

Columbia City Council voted to approve the project during their meeting on Tuesday, January 20. The project will mainly make improvements in the area of Eighth Street and Walnut, including removing the traffic light at that intersection and replacing sidewalks.

Three community members including Tiger Hotel owner, Glyn Laverick, spoke against the project at the meeting and called on the Council to better allocate the funds to other infrastructure needs.

Tuesday night's meeting also resulted in adding two infrastructure issues on the April ballot. The first issue requests city issue bonds to receive $63 million to build the city's electric system. The bond would accumulate interest over approximately 30 years. For the second issue, community members will vote on whether they want to authorize an increase in their monthly stormwater utility charges.

"We need to take care of our infrastructure," said Fifth Ward Council Member Laura Nauser.

A few community members said the city should hold off on building the electric system until more energy efficient options are explored. In an interview after the meeting, Fourth Ward Council Member Ian Thomas said he thinks the stormwater issue is "more pressing than the electric system."

If approved, the stormwater charge would increase by 25 percent every year for the next five years. Compared to similar-sized Midwest cities, Columbia has one of the most inexpensive stormwater charges.

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