The public took a close look Tuesday night at a proposed cross-country course planned for the Gans Creek Recreation area.
Those who came to the presentation at the Gans Creek Recreation Area Concession Building meandered around displays showing proposed masterplans and artist renditions of what the course would look like if approved. They asked questions and gave feedback to the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department.
The city will accept public comments on the course until July 15, and construction will need to be approved by the City Council.
Course designs include a 2-kilometer and a 3-kilometer route. A timing deck, additional restrooms, spectator fencing and an “athlete barn” are also in the designs.
The “athlete barn” is a place for athletes to cool down after a race before talking to their families or the media, said Park Development Superintendent Mike Snyder.
A 2015 park sales tax is the source of initial funding for the project, which is still in the planning stages. Its budget is $200,000. MU Athletics will provide funds for additional amenities, according to the Parks Department website.
Jared Wilmes, a cross-country coach at Father Tolton Catholic High School, said it’s difficult to hold cross-country meets with 30 or 40 teams without a championship-style course. It will be much easier to organize meets at this new course.
Wilmes said the course would have designated parking areas, making it spectator friendly and special for athletes.
MU and Columbia College cross-country teams would also use the course, said Snyder.
If the course is approved, beginning in November 2019, the Missouri State High School Activities Association will use the course for the Missouri State Cross- Country Championships, according to the Parks Department website.
Columbia residents will be able to use the course as well.
“I’ll enjoy using it myself,” Snyder said.
Department director Mike Griggs said the cross-country course would be more environmentally friendly.
He said that the original master plan for the park included six baseball diamonds, but environmental concerns from Rock Bridge State Park about lighting and stormwater drainage forced the plans to change.