Council votes to rescind approval of original Providence Road Project

There will be another public hearing regarding the project at the June 3 City Council meeting.
Columbia residents packed the City Hall meeting room to witness the vote regarding the Providence Road Improvement Project at Monday night's City Council meeting. In a 5-2 vote, council rescinded the plan passed Nov. 19.

In a 5-2 vote, City Council voted to rescind Phase 1 of the Providence Road Improvement Project on Monday night.

Council members also gave Public Works Director John Glasscock suggestions of which options to look into for further progress on improvements along Providence Road. There will be another public hearing regarding the project at the June 3 City Council meeting.

Council members Mayor Bob McDavid, Second Ward Councilman Michael Trapp, Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala, Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas and Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser voted yes to rescind the resolution. First Ward Councilman Fred Schmidt and Sixth Ward council woman Barbara Hoppe voted no on rescinding.

McDavid cited multiple reasons for supporting his vote to rescind, including the cost of the original plan.

The city has nearly $200 million in infrastructure needs and the Phase 1, in combination with Phase 2, now referred to as Option 9, would cost $6.6 million, McDavid said.

"We have infrastructure needs that go far beyond Grasslands, with due respect to the Grasslands citizens," McDavid said. "Every dollar we spend in Grasslands that we don't need to spend in Grasslands is a dollar we don't spend in the third ward or the second ward or the sixth ward."

Both McDavid and Nauser said they believed the process leading to the passing of the original plan was flawed.

Option 9 was so different than any of the other proposals discussed at interested parties meetings beforehand because it required taking eight homes through the use of eminent domain, Nauser said.

"I don't like the process of how we got here," Nauser said. "I don't think council was presented with any of these other options before they voted. So I think that the decision may have been made differently if they had been presented with these other options beforehand and at least had the discussion on that."

Schmidt disagreed with the idea that the process was flawed.

"People say the process is flawed, but this has been going on for a long long time," Schmidt said. "I honestly think that they just didn't like the outcome."

Grasslands resident Ali Price spoke during the public hearing against rescinding Phase 1, noting that.

"When does it end?" Price said. "We need this. For 10 years we've been dealing with this. When is it enough?"

Hoppe also noted how rescinding the plan could instill distrust in the council among neighborhoods.

"When will any neighborhood feel secure on a decision made by council?" Hoppe said.

Multiple council members expressed that they favored an alternative to all ten options presented to them at the March 20 interested parties meeting and at their work session. They called the option 8a, which is a combination of aspects from Options 8, 9 and 10.

The main difference between Option 8a and Option 9 is whether the city builds a new feeder road, McDavid said.

"The difference is how people in the south part of the Grasslands get to turn," McDavid said. "Do they go up an existing road, Birch, which is going to cost $100,000 to widen, or do we take out two houses and put a feeder street between Bingham and Burnam?"

The Missouri State Historic Preservation Office rescinded a previous finding that a stretch of Providence Road comprised no historic properties, according to an April 4 letter from deputy state historic preservation officer Mark Miles to Columbia Historic Preservation Commission.

At the March 20 interested parties meeting, 53 percent of the nearly 200 people in attendance voted in favor of Option 9.

MU Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities Gary Ward supported Option 9, according to a letter from Ward to Glascock.

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