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(AUDIO): Excitement and optimism about Columbia’s newest park near Cafe Berlin

(AUDIO): Excitement and optimism about Columbia’s newest park near Cafe Berlin

The Columbia Chamber of Commerce ambassadors joined Mayor Barbara Buffaloe, state Department of Economic Development (DED) acting director Michelle Hataway and other dignitaries at Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the new Orr street park (June 22, 2023 photo courtesy of Columbia Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Tammy Miller)

Columbia’s city manager is excited about the new Orr street park that will be developed near Orr and Park, northeast of Café Berlin.

City manager De’Carlon Seewood took his sports coat and tie off in the heat and grabbed a shovel during Thursday afternoon’s groundbreaking ceremony. Mr. Seewood tells 939 the Eagle he’s thrilled with the large turnout.

“When you look at economic development, when you look at communities, you know having a green space that allows for festivals, allow for just a walking path so people can have a green place to just get out of the concrete jungle of the downtown area … it’s just exciting to have,” Seewood says.

Mr. Seewood was joined at the groundbreaking ceremony by Columbia Mayor Barbara Buffaloe, first ward city councilman Nick Knoth, acting state Department of Economic Development (DED) director Michelle Hataway and others.

Columbia has been awarded a $1.25 million dollar DED grant to develop the property. Seewood says Columbia’s voter-approved park sales tax will fund the rest of the $1.5 million project.

Columbia’s mayor says the Orr Street park that will be developed in the North Village Arts District is a huge deal for the area. The park will be located near Orr and Park Avenue, across the street from the Columbia Fire Department. A manufactured gas plant had been located there, at one time. Mayor Buffaloe tells 939 the Eagle that the location has been an eyesore in downtown and in the North Village Arts District.

“So many people have been like why don’t you do something with it. And it’s like well we just need to have the right partners and the right investment of funds to actually make it happen,” Buffaloe says.

Columbia Parks and Recreation says some of the park features may include open greenspace, a walking trail, outdoor art areas and a playground.

“So right now we’re about ready to start doing our interested parties meeting. As you’re looking around here, we have a lot of the renderings up and so staff will be doing an interested parties meeting and then coming back to us with official plans for the timeline of the project,” says Buffaloe.

Columbia fourth ward city councilman Nick Thomas also attended the groundbreaking, as did former Columbia sixth ward councilman Barbara Hoppe. All three Boone County commissioners attended as well.