Frequently Asked Questions

Park & Facility Information

Q:  Where does the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department purchase the playground
and furniture that is used in City parks?

Q:  What does the City do with old playground equipment? 

Q:  Where can I get information on playground safety standards?

Q:  What are city park hours? 

Q:  When do I need to fill out a Park Special Use Application?

Q:  What do I do if I lose or find an item in a park?

Q:  Where can I go fishing?

Q:  How are parks planned and developed?

Q:  Where can I ice skate or go sledding?

Q:  Do the golf course hours vary in the winter months?

Q:  Stephens Lake Park – Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  Should we feed the waterfowl at the parks?

Q:  Are there any plans to add an aquatic facility on the south side of Columbia?

Q:  When are restrooms closed and open for the season?

Q:  Who do I contact on the weekend if I have an issue with my reservation?

Q:  Can I use a metal detector in a park?

Q:  How can I donate a tree or bench?

Q:  May we use tiki torches, campfires, or candle luminaries in parks?

Q:  Is alcohol allowed in the park?


Programs, Activities, Sports, and Events

Q:  Where can I get a copy of Leisure Times activity guide? 

Q:  Where do I get information on youth sports?

Q:  How do I register for a program or activity?

Q:  How do I find out cancellations?

Q:  What special events do you offer?

Q:  How do I find my login information to register online?

Q:  Are dogs allowed in the ballparks?



Q:  How do I reserve a shelter?

Q:  Can I get more picnic tables and/or trash cans set out for the shelter I have reserved?

Q:  How do I make a birthday party reservation at a city pool?

Q:  How do I reserve a ball field?

Q:  What are the hours shelters can be reserved?



Q:  Where can I get information about the City’s free mulch sites?

Q:  Do you sell theme park tickets?

Q:  Where does the City purchase the recycled-lumber benches and plaques used in the
      parks for the Memorial/Heritage Bench Program?

Q:  What is your refund policy?

Q:  Where does the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department purchase the playground equipment that is used in City parks?

A:  Most playground equipment is bid out through the City Purchasing Department to the vendors listed below.  They are listed below alphabetically. Call for product catalogs.

Burke Premier Play Environments 
Distributor:  Riggs Recreation Equipment Inc., P. O. Box 6191 Leawood, Kansas City, MO  66206

GameTime – A Playcore Company
Distributor:  Modlin Recreation Equipment, Inc., P. O. Box 50048, Denton TX  76206-0048
800-433-5347; Fax:  940-381-0463

Landscape Structures, Inc.
Distributor: Gateway Recreational Products, Inc., 4949 Caribee Drive, St. Louis, MO 63128
866-416-7529; Fax:314-416-7507

Little Tikes
Distributor: All Inclusive Recreation, P.O. Box 72., Farmington, MO 63640
866-701-9787; Fax: 573-701-9312

Miracle Recreation Equipment Company
Distributor:  Custom Play Systems, 320 Winnebago Drive, Lake Winnebago, MO  64034
888-371-7529; Fax:  816-537-8713

Park Structures
Distributor: ABCreative, Inc., 32225 West 88th St., DeSoto, KS  66018
888-222-7529, 913-583-3332; Fax:  913-583-1436;

Playworld Systems
Distributor:  Fry & Associates, Inc., 1501 Burlington, Suite 201, North Kansas City, MO  64116
800-444-9787; Fax:  816-221-4831;

Recreation Creations Inc.
Distributor:  Bergfeld Recreation, Inc., 14100 Manchester Rd., Manchester, MO  63011
800-336-9697; Fax:  636-394-4472
Distributor:  Reese Recreation Products, 3327 N. Ridge Ave., Arlington Heights, IL  60004
800-222-2268; Fax:  847-398-1433;

Q:  What does the City do with old playground equipment?

A:  The majority of playground equipment removed from city parks no longer meets safety requirements and cannot be resold.  Most City-owned items that can be resold are auctioned on GovDeals.

Q:  Where can I get information on playground safety standards?

A:  See the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Public Playground Safety Checklist.

Q:  What are city park hours?

A:  Unless otherwise posted, the city parks are open from 6 A.M. to 11 P.M.  Cosmo Park  is open 6A.M. to 12 midnight and Columbia Skate Park within Cosmo Park is open 6 A.M. to dusk.  Both L.A. Nickell and Lake of the Woods golf courses are open 7 A.M. to dusk, weather permitting. A few parks have varying hours due to requests by the surrounding neighborhoods. Each park has its hours posted on its respective web page listed in the Park Directory.

There are seven parks where fishing is allowed before regular park hours. [more info]

Q:  Where can I get a copy of Leisure Times program guide?

A:  The publication of Columbia Parks and Recreation comes out twice a year in March and August.  Issues can be found at:

  • Parks and Rec General Offices, Gentry Building, 1 South 7th Street
  • Parks Management Center, 1507 Business Loop 70 West
  • Activity & Recreation Center, 1701 W. Ash
  • Armory Sports Center, 701 E. Ash
  • Hillcrest Community Center, 1907 Hillcrest Drive
  • Columbia Public Library, 100 West Broadway
  • Leisure Times On Line

Q:  What do I do if I lose or find an item in a park?

A:  Contact the Parks and Recreation Office at 874-7460.  Found items can be turned in at either the Parks and Recreation offices at 1 South 7th Street or the Parks Management Center at 1507 Business Loop 70 West, 874-7201.  If the item was lost at the Rainbow Softball Center, call or check the concession stand at 449-1925.

Q:  Where can I get information about the City’s free mulch sites?

A:  The City’s free mulch sites are administered through the Public Works Department. Visit their web page for information on these sites.

Q:  How are parks planned and developed?

A:  Visit this web page for the answer: Park Planning Steps

Q:  Can I get more picnic tables and/or trash cans set out for the shelter I have reserved?

A:  No.  All the picnic tables and trash cans available are set out and in use at our shelters.  Refuse dumpsters are required for all groups of 200 or more (requires 48 hr. advance notice and additional fee, contact Solid Waste, 874-6291.) Any event attracting 200 or more guests requires a Park Special Use Application.

Q:  Where can I ice skate or go sledding?

A:  When conditions allow, Stephens Lake will be opened for ice skating. (See Ice Skating Safety for more information) Columbia’s sled hill is also located at Stephens Lake Park, 2001 E. Broadway. (See Safe Sledding for more information)

Q:  Where can I go fishing?

A:  See Hunting & Fishing Regulations for Columbia Parks. Also, see Winter Trout Fishing at Cosmo-Bethel Park.

Q:  How do I reserve a shelter?

A:  Several shelters in various parks are reservable.  If they are not reserved, shelters are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Reservations will be taken up to 364 days in advance.  The fee is required on the date the reservation is made.  Shelter reservations may be made over the phone if paid by credit or debit card.  For more information or to reserve a shelter, call 573-874-7460 during normal business hours.  See Picnic Shelter Reservations for more information.

Q:  How do I reserve a ball field?

A:  Anyone will be permitted to reserve fields for practice where fields are available.  Teams must pay for and reserve the fields in advance.  Fees are required on the date the reservation is made and are not refundable.  If the fields are unplayable due to weather related conditions only, the field reservation can either be rescheduled or a letter of credit will be issued.  FIELDS MUST BE RESCHEDULED WITHIN ONE WORKING DAY OF RAINED OUT DATE.   You can reserve up to 2 hours maximum, but not 1 1/2 hours. Please call 874-7460 for rate information. (See also Softball/Baseball Facilities and Soccer Facilities for rental rates)

Q:  How do I find out about cancellations?

A:  In case of program or game cancellations, the information will be placed on our hotline at 573-874-7663.  Game cancellation decisions will be made at 4:00 p.m. on weekdays and between 6:00-6:30 a.m. for all other sports on the weekend and announced on KOOL, KCMQ, KFRU, KTGR, KFMZ, and KCLR radio stations.

Subscribing to the Parks & Recreation listservs will provide current information about game status or cancellations by sending the subscriber an e-mail message containing specific information.

These listservs are available for cancellation updates:

  • Soccer – Status of games on all Parks and Recreation fields.
  • Youth Baseball/Softball – Status of all Diamond Council games.
  • Adult Softball – Status of adult league games at Rainbow Softball Center.
  • Indoor Sports – Status of adult basketball, adult volleyball, and adult noon club basketball and volleyball.
  • Youth Basketball – Status of Columbia Youth Basketball Association (CYBA) games.
  • Youth Football – Status of Columbia Youth Football League (CYFL) games.
  • Youth Lacrosse – Status of Mid-Missouri Lacrosse League (MMLL) games.

You may sign up by visiting the WebMail registration page.

Q:  How do I register for a program or activity?

A:  There are five easy ways to register.  Check Leisure Times for program information.

  1. On-line: You can now register on-line for most programs and activities. The Parks & Recreation On-line Program Registration System is a simple, secure, and convenient program which allows you to locate recreational activities and register anytime or anywhere a computer with Internet access is available.
  2. Walk in:  1 S. Seventh St. – Gentry Building – Monday through Friday – 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  3. Mail in:  Call first to be sure there is available space.  This does not guarantee placement in the class activity.  A receipt and class information will be sent.  You may use your MasterCard, VISA or Discover charge cards.  Include your account number, expiration date, and signature on the mail-in form.  Make checks payable to “City of Columbia.”  Mail registration to:  Columbia Parks and Recreation, P. O. Box 6015, Columbia, MO  65205.
  4. Phone in:  573-874-7460, TTY 573-874-6395.  Phone-in registration will be accepted with your MasterCard, VISA, or Discover charge cards Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  5. Fax in:  Complete registration form and fax to 573-874-7640.  MasterCard, VISA or Discover cards only.

Q: Do the golf course hours vary in the winter months?

A: Yes, inclement weather affects whether the golf courses are open and their hours. Please call each golf course for daily hours of operation information. Lake of the Woods Golf Course – (573)474-7011 and L.A. Nickell Golf Course – (573)445-4213.

Q: Should we feed the waterfowl at the parks?

A: No, please do NOT feed the waterfowl. Parks and Recreation is working with the USDA Wildlife Service to protect the health of our park birds and wildlife. Feeding these wild animals creates dependence, promotes the spread of disease, and upsets the natural cycles. Thank you for your cooperation.

Q: Are there any plans to add an aquatic facility on the south side of Columbia?

A: The “short answer” to your question is an easy yes in that the Parks & Recreation Department has planned for a public swimming facility on the south side of Columbia for many years. The 2013 Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Master Plan identifies two existing parks as sites for aquatic improvements: Twin Lakes Recreation Area and Philips Park. The Master Plan lists recommended capital improvements projects at both locations, however, as of 2014, both are unfunded. These projects may be considered to be potentially funded by the 2015 Park Sales Tax ballot issue.

Plans tentatively may include a new small 25 meter pool, hillside slide and sprayground at Twin Lakes, to complement recent improvements at Little Mates Cove. (See revised master plan for Twin Lakes)

Philips Park, which along with Gans Creek Recreation Area comprises the southeast regional park, would possibly one day feature an outdoor water park. (See Southeast Regional Park Master Plan)

Q: When are restrooms and water fountains closed and open for the season?

A: Most non-heated park restrooms and drinking fountains are closed beginning October 15 and re-opened by April 15

We have the following ten heated restrooms that are open year round:

  • Stephens Lake Park – 2 (south side near Gordon Shelter and Riechmann Pavilion outside restrooms)
  • Cosmo-Bethel Park – 1
  • Cosmo Park – 2 (Nickell/Lamb restroom and restroom just north of the roundabout)
  • Albert-Oakland Park – 1 (by Shelter 2)
  • MKT Trail at Scott Blvd. – 1
  • MKT Trail at Forum Blvd. – 1
  • Garth Nature Area – 1
  • Grindstone Nature Area – 1

The following water fountains are open year round:

Frozen water fountainOctober marks the time when many parks and outdoor facilities find their use decreasing with each drop of the thermometer. Park staff closes and winterizes the restrooms.

What does “winterizing” mean ? First, many park restrooms, pool bathhouses, and concession stands do not have heat. If it gets below freezing, they run the risk of water lines and valves breaking causing several thousand dollars worth of damage. Therefore, before the temperatures start to freeze, these facilities are closed and winterized by draining the water from all vulnerable lines.

When do facilities close? Generally speaking, the goal is to have all non-heated facilities closed beginning October 15. This date is a fairly standard closing date for many municipalities in Missouri. All facilities are re-opened by April 15. Some exceptions apply to special-use facilities.

When do special-use facilities close? It varies depending on the facility and use. For example, the concession/restroom facilities located at the Rainbow Softball Center, soccer and the Antimi complexes remain open until their respective seasons end, usually around the first of November. Park staff uses electric heaters to prolong the use of these facilities.

When it warms up, why don’t you unlock the restrooms? There are times when Missouri temps will be unseasonably warm even in December and January, so why aren’t the restrooms unlocked during those warm days? It’s not as simple as just turning the water back on and unlocking the door. In addition to draining the lines, all of the stainless steel valves have to be disassembled and RV antifreeze added to the lines. This takes about 8 hours of labor per each restroom and a bit longer to reassemble and safely remove the antifreeze. It is not cost efficient to close and re-open restrooms multiple times throughout the winter along with the added risk of lines freezing and breaking if staff is unable to get them re-winterized in time.

So, as you plan your events, please be aware of facility closing dates.

Q: May we use tiki torches, campfires, or candle luminaries in parks?

A: No open flames, candles or torches of any type are allowed. The Parks & Rec Department suggests that you use battery powered lights to achieve the candle luminaries effect. Sterno cans for heating food only is allowed.

Q: Is alcohol allowed in the park?

A: Alcohol is generally allowed in all city parks, except for the following which can be allowed under a permit by the Parks & Recreation Director: Paquin Park, Flat Branch Park, and Village Square Park. Sales are not permitted and alcohol cannot be consumed by minors. Alcohol is not allowed to be brought in to restricted-use areas, such as ballfield complexes and swimming pools, or other defined areas that sell concessions or require a fee for entry.

Q: Who do I contact on the weekend if I have an issue with my reservation?

A: Please contact a Park Ranger at one of the following numbers: 573-999-4583, 573-808-4870, or 573-999-7201. If you cannot reach a Park Ranger, please contact the Columbia Police Department non-emergency number at 573-442-6131.

Q: Are dogs allowed in the ballparks?

A: No, with the exception of service dogs (to assist people with disabilities).

Q: Can I use a metal detector in a park?

A: Yes, with some restrictions. Metal detectors may be used in park open space areas to find items that are lying on the surface of the ground. Digging, removal, or any damage to the ground surface to find items is NOT allowed and is prohibited by City Code.

Any items found that are not owned by the finder should be turned in to the Parks and Recreation Department’s lost and found, with the purpose of notifying and returning the item to the original owner. (See Section 17-133.) If after 30 days the item is not claimed by the owner, the finder may claim the item.

In restricted-use facilities, such as pools and athletic complexes, metal detectors are not allowed except to find a specific lost item. The manager of the facility should be notified when the item is lost. Permission to use a metal detector at these restricted-use facilities will be granted by the manager and will be at a time when the facility is open to the public and will not interfere with scheduled activities.