City Council to review fairgrounds plans, vote on new park Tuesday

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The Columbia City Council will ring in the new year with an old issue when city staff gives a report on developing plans for the Boone County fairgrounds at the councilís first meeting of 2018 on Tuesday.

The future of the fairgrounds has been in limbo since Boone County voters overwhelmingly rejected a temporary, one-eighth cent sales tax to help redevelop the Central Missouri Events Center in August 2014. Boone County shut down the fairgrounds in 2015, and the Boone County Fair was held in Sturgeon in 2016 and 2017.

Parks and Recreation Department staff recommends putting the planned $3.7 million sports fieldhouse at A. Perry Philips Park on hold to consider partnering with Boone County and the nonprofit Mid-Missouri Sports Park to build the fieldhouse at the Central Missouri Events Center, the former site of the Boone County Fair.

According to the report, the city has time to weigh its options. If construction of the fieldhouse at Philips Park is delayed 30-45 days, it could still be ready in time for basketball and volleyball in early 2019.

The council will also vote on a plan to buy land for a new park in the Whitegate neighborhood, hold a public hearing on annexation and zoning of 10 acres into southwest Columbia and approve a new civilian crime scene investigator and K-9 officer for the Columbia Police Department.

Whitegate park

The City Council will vote on a plan to buy 2ľ acres at the corner of Towne and Whitegate drives in northeast Columbia from Columbia Insurance Group for $250,000. Consultants from Cannon, Blaylock & Wise valued the land at $490,000, according to a city staff memo.

The Parks and Recreation Department asked the council to buy the land for a new park with money from the parks sales tax. Some residents of the Whitegate neighborhood told the Missourian they think a park would give children a safer place to play and keep them out of trouble. One resident said she was worried people would use the park to sell drugs.

Brushwood Lake annexation

The council will hold a public hearing and first reading of a proposed annexation of about 10 acres at the intersection of South Scott Boulevard and South Brushwood Lake Road, just outside the southwest boundary of the city and east of Perche Creek.

NGT, Inc., which owns the land, is planning to develop a commercial center and wants to connect to the cityís sewer and utilities, according to a city staff memo.

The proposed ordinance would zone the land as M-N, mixed-use neighborhood. On Dec. 7, the Planning and Zoning Commission split 4-4 on the proposed zoning. The commission passed the issue along to the City Council with no recommendation.

The entire site falls within the cityís floodplain, with two-thirds inside the floodway, according to the council memo. City Planner Rusty Palmer told the zoning commission the developer has filled in some of the land and is trying to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency to change the flood map, according to minutes from the Dec. 7 meeting.

Keene Street roundabout

The council will vote on an agreement to evenly split the cost of a new roundabout at the intersection of Keene Street and I-70 Drive Southeast with the Missouri Department of Transportation. The council will also set a Feb. 5 public hearing for the project.

Construction of the roundabout is expected to cost $652,240, with half the money coming from the Department of Transportation and the other half coming from the cityís quarter-cent capital improvement sales tax, according to a city staff memo.

The project is expected to cost $831,700 in total, including design, easement acquisition, utility relocation and construction, according to another staff memo. Only the cost of construction can be shared with the Department of Transportation, so the city expects to pay $505,580 in total.

Raf the police dog set to retire

The council will vote to use $16,435 from federal asset forfeitures to buy a new K-9 officer and kennel.

K-9 officer Raf is almost 9 years old and needs medicine to manage pain in his hips, according to a city staff memo. The ordinance is on the councilís consent agenda.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday.

New civilian investigator for Columbia police

After Mayor Brian Treece instructed City Manager Mike Matthes to do whatever he could to help the Columbia Police Department get a handle on the spike of murders in the city, the council will vote to replace a vacant administrative position with a full-time civilian crime scene investigator.

Civilian investigators are called in to large or complex crime scenes to help detectives find and process evidence.

The department currently has one full-time crime scene investigator. Adding another would give the department 80 hours of crime scene coverage a week, giving detectives more time to pursue leads and conduct interviews, according to a city staff memo.

The ordinance is on the councilís consent agenda, so there will be no public discussion before the vote, unless the item is moved to the regular agenda.

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