Anger from Thornbrook to the south, Vanderveen to the north
COLUMBIA, Mo 11/20/13 (Beat Byte) -- Columbia's backward approach to road construction has residents on two sides of town fed up."I wish you would cover the outrage that Thornbrook residents feel about Scott Blvd. being shut down for 8 months," Donna McGill Piecko told the Heart Beat. "Vawter School Road will be shut down also, due to construction of a round about. We are stuck out here."Feeling just as stuck, Columbia resident Larry Bossaller posted a note on Mayor Bob McDavid's Facebook page skeptical of City Hall's long-standing promise to construct 85 feet of road connecting the Prairie Hill and Vanderveen Crossing (PH-VC) subdivisions."I've had two people tell me they don't believe anything the City of Columbia says," Bossaller told the Mayor. "I am getting ready to get the whole story (I have all the emails, documents) to national media."
Both residents worry about how well paramedics, police officers, and fire fighters can reach their neighborhoods."We can't go to work or come home from work, and emergency vehicles can't get to their calls on Prairie Lane, all because of poor City management," Bossaller wrote.
"Emergency response is bad enough and now it will be even worse," once the project begins, Thornbrook's McGill Piecko said. "Now, we get stranded here during snow storms for 3 days. By March, it could be weeks before we are dug out. "
Built along a narrow two-lane stretch of Scott Blvd., Thornbrook is the most striking example of developers buying and then building on cheaply-taxed farmland for far less than they would pay if roads, sewers, and other infrastructure were already in place. Hitting up taxpayers while inconveniencing residents well after the fact is an old builder's hat trick.
But the "build houses first, build streets later" approach is finally catching up with City Hall, Columbia Public Schools (CPS), and Boone County, causing public officials to scramble.To deal with school over-population near Thornbrook, CPS recently introduced a controversial plan to redistrict students from Mill Creek Elementary that some are calling re-segregation.
And as residents have discovered, the Scott Blvd. and Vanderveen Crossing fixes should have been finished well before the first house was built.Known as Columbia's largest neighborhood, Vanderveen Crossing -- and Prairie Village next door -- suffer storm-caused flooding that shuts down traffic. The PH-VC connector would provide an important new means of ingress and egress.
Neighbors started pushing for the connector almost six years ago. In January 2010, City Council members set money aside for the connection, Bossaller reminded.This year, "we were told the connection would start on August 1st, 2013. It didn't happen!" Bossaller told the Mayor. "Then we were told the connection would start on November 1st, 2013. It didn't happen!"And yet, "the map in City Hall shows Prairie Lane connected," Bossaller said.The poor planning and broken promises reflect poorly on City Hall and elected representatives, say the two residents."Several residents have reached out to Laura Nauser, but to no avail," McGill Piecko said, referring to the 5th Ward Councilwoman, who is up for re-election in April. "We pay a lot of taxes and get no support!"
"The City of Columbia has some real ethics issues," Bossaller told Mayor McDavid. "Our elected officials must be held accountable."