Boone County officials ask the City of Columbia to rethink their decision on sports park project

Boone County officials ask the City of Columbia to rethink their decision on sports park project

BOONE COUNTY, Mo. - Boone County Commissioner Fred Parry is asking the city council to rethink its decision regarding the planned Mid-Missouri Sports Park project at the old Boone County fairgrounds. 

In a letter written on Friday, Parry asked the city council to take 90 days to re-think their denial of the project. 

Parry said, "After 14 months of negotiations, three rounds of revisions to a jointly-crafted Memorandum of Understanding and two scheduled press conferences, I was reasonably confident that the City and County were much closer to reaching a final agreement on our joint venture at the old fairgrounds site."

Parry continued with, "Boone County's willingness to give joint ownership of the 135 acre parcel of land along with the pledge of a $5 million contribution toward developments costs from Mid-Missouri Sports Park seemed like the best possible circumstances under which to forge a long-lasting partnership between the City and County for the benefit of our 176,000 citizens. The abrupt termination of our discussions came as a surprise to myself and my colleagues in Boone County government."

The city council is expected to vote on Monday to continue with construction of a 41,000 square foot sports field house, which would include four basketball courts, at Perry Philips Park off Highway 63 in south Columbia.

Karl Skala, Ward 3 councilman, said he believes the old fairgrounds is a good spot for the complex, but felt the memorandum of understanding between the city and county favored toward the county.

"So the city was obligated to build the buildings and spend close to 4 million dollars to do that with very little control over how those buildings were use," he said. "I think that was the deciding moment for most of the folks on the city council."

In the letter, Parry argues a bigger facility could be built at the fairgrounds and attract more tournaments to the area. Parry also said Columbia league organizers claim thousands of children are unable to participate in youth basketball due to the lack of courts.

Skala said the city is interested in building something there in the future.

"We'd like to proceed, we'd like to talk about it, it's not going to end any of the conversations about any of this in using the land jointly at the fairgrounds, but for this particular project we felt we needed to move ahead," he said.

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