Family wants changes to parks before anniversary

Albert family says signs missing, park neglected

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The family of the man who donated land for one of Columbia's oldest parks wants the city to address upkeep and changes ahead of a golden anniversary.

Kurt Albert's father, Paul, donated more than 100 acres of land for what is now Albert-Oakland Park, C.M. Albert Memorial Park and the Albert-Oakland Pool.

But visitors to the park now find trash and a lack of parking or restrooms at C.M. Albert Memorial Park. Kurt Albert has asked the city to change that ahead of the 50th anniversary of his father's donation next April.

Problems have plagued the family and the park that bears its name for decades. Albert told ABC 17 News former city manager Ray Beck tried to build a road through C.M. Albert Memorial Park in the 1970's , which violated the family's contract with the city.

The family fought the plan and ultimately won, splitting Parker Street in northern Columbia. That's when Kurt Albert said the problems got worse.

"Starting around 2000, we noticed name had been taken off websites, maps and staff had been told to call it Oakland and we started to try to restore historic naming of the park," Albert said.

Albert gave ABC 17 News an email dated September 2, 1999 he said went from Ray Beck to city staff asking that all references to Albert be removed from everything but the 20 acres of C.M. Albert Memorial Park.

In other documents given to ABC 17 News, Albert-Oakland Park has had its name made official by ordinance or resolution three times: January 17, 1972; March 6, 1972; and October 6, 2008.

Things were already starting to get better this week.

Since Monday, the city Parks and Recreation Department has replaced one of the signs at C.M. Albert Memorial Park and said it has plans to replace two others that were removed or damaged.

Albert asked City Council Tuesday night to help support putting a sign at the Albert-Oakland Pool location as an entrance to the park. He also asked for a parking lot, restrooms and new landscaping at Memorial Park and Parker Street.

"This was the first greenbelt wildlife corridor in Boone County,' he said. "Why? Because my father wanted it. He was one of the early environmentalists and he believed in parks."

Council did not comment on the request or comments from Albert Tuesday night. There was not a price tag for the requested changes available Tuesday night.

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