City waiting on Roots N Blues to assess damage

Columbia leaders believe there might be thousands of dollars in damages at Stephens Lake Park

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The clean-up continues Monday at Stephens Lake Park following this year's Roots N Blues festival. Organizers should clear the site in a few days. That is just the beginning for city crews.

None of the existing buildings were damaged, but the grounds need work. Parks and Recreation officials said it looks like moderate damage. Right now, they are unsure how much money for repairs will be coming from taxpayers.

The city is waiting for everything to be picked up before their crews can go in and survey what they need to fix. Crews say they were expecting significant damage from the thousands of people, but so far, they are surprised at what they are seeing.

"We weren't really making sidewalks wide enough for vehicles, so tires were dropping over. We expected some of that, but because it had rained Thursday night, we got a little bit more than we thought," Columbia Parks and Recreation Director Mike Griggs said.

Griggs said they do not have a complete estimate on the cost. But he expects the majority to be covered by the event. For every ticket sold, the city received $2. The other costs would come out of the general park repair fund in the department's budget. Griggs believed most of the costs will be in labor rather than supplies and materials.

Event organizers said despite the damages, Roots N Blues in Stephens Lake Park was a success.

"Downtown was a wonderful experience for folks, but I think we kind of outgrew that in terms of accessibility and moving people back and forth between the stages, so we really needed to provide more space," Roots N Blues N BBQ organizer Betsy Farris said.

The city said if organizers want to continue having the event in the park, they might have to start capping the number of tickets if the event gets larger.

"There's a certain point where participation becomes a negative, then no one wants to come because it gets too big, and the park, the natural resources get damaged," Griggs explained.

City leaders said in the future they might negotiate some kickbacks from amenities, like a ferris wheel, to get more money for repairs. Event organizers did express a desire for the festival to remain at the park for several more years.

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