The Columbia City Council approved the plan to build a trail that will connect Columbia’s eastern neighborhoods to the central city Monday night.
The Shepard-Rollins trail project will cut through about 35 acres of woods east of Columbia’s East Campus neighborhood and west of Old 63; it will cost $2.8 million to complete.
It was approved by a vote of 6-1. Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala was the lone dissenting vote, saying too much money was being spent in one area.
The proposed trail was perhaps the evening’s hottest topic, drawing a standing-room-only crowd that debated the trail’s pros and cons for nearly two hours.
Many of the people who opposed the project raised concerns the trail would disrupt nature in the area.
But resident Barbara Wren’s concerns focused more on the trail’s financial drawbacks.
“It’s like saying your kids are barefoot and they need shoes, but you have the money to go buy an iPhone X,” Wren said. “No – buy shoes for your kids, use the phone you got and then go out and buy the iPhone X when you get more money.”
Yet an overwhelming majority of residents at the meeting supported the trail, saying its benefits outweigh the costs.
“The nature, the squirrels, the deer – the things that I have seen and gotten to enjoy is the reason why I bike. Because I get to go out and see God’s beauty and enjoy nature. And I would never have been over on Grindstone had it not been for a concrete trail.”
Parks and Recreation Director Mike Griggs said he hopes construction will begin this fall, while the trail should take about a year to complete.