Columbia voters will head to the polls in November to cast ballots on a one-eighth cent park sales tax extension.
The tax was first approved by voters in 2000. Columbia parks director Mike Griggs tells 939 the Eagle’s “CEO Round Table” that a developer wanted to drain Stephens Lake in 2000 and built apartments at that location, near Broadway and old Highway 63.
“Basically it passed then (in 2000) and it was a really close vote in 2000, and then we’ve renewed it in 2005, 2010 and 2015, with it growing. In 15, we had over 70 percent renewing it,” Griggs says.
The park sales tax is the main funding source for Columbia parks and recreation’s capital improvement projects. If the tax is renewed, parks officials plan major renovations at numerous parks, including Rock Quarry park, Rainbow softball center and the Lake of the Woods recreation area. Two new nature areas are also planned.
Mr. Griggs says the proposed ballot measure will generate about $31 million over ten years. He also has a message for residents who say the city has too many parks and too many trails.
“Well I say if Columbia quits growing, we’ll stop growing. You know, when we passed it in 2000, there were 84,000 population. We’re at 124,000 right now. And not only is the population growing, but the city limits are growing,” says Griggs.
Griggs notes Columbia has acquired more than 13 new square miles.