Southeast Regional Park History

Another Gem in Columbia’s “Emerald Necklace”

News Conference Announcing Intent to Purchase Property

Philips Property Crane PropertyColumbia Mayor Darwin Hindman, City Manager Bill Watkins and Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hood announced at a February 27, 2007 news conference that the Crane family has agreed to sell a 320-acre tract to the City for a new regional park. The family has historic roots in Boone County and, according to Sue Crane, the transaction is “bittersweet.”

The family has farmed and lived on the property for generations but sees the sale as a lasting resource for future generations.

Ms. Crane was one of several citizens who spoke at the news conference. Others included: Paul Blythe, Diamond Council of Columbia; Chuck Everitt, Columbia Youth Football League; Scott Simmons, Columbia Soccer Club; Hank Ottinger, Sierra Club; and Jeff Barrow, Greenbelt Coalition.

Mayor Hindman recalled a time several years ago when members of the City Council envisioned an “emerald necklace” of trails and natural areas linking all parts of Columbia. Acquiring the Crane property, he suggested, could significantly further that dream.

City Manager Watkins said that the purchase depends on Council approval. A resolution authorizing the contract will be first-read at the City Council meeting on March 5. The public hearing will take place two weeks later, on March 19. The Council could take action at that time.

Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hood’s Remarks

The following is a transcript of comments made by Mike Hood, Director, Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation during the February 27, 2007 news conference.

“Before I begin my comments about the property, I would just like to express my thanks and appreciation to the Crane family. We have been through an extended negotiation process to reach the point we are at today, and without their willingness to work with the City we would not be here making this announcement

This is truly an exciting day for the Parks and Recreation department. We are on the cusp of achieving one of the major goals identified in the City’s 2002 Park and Recreation Master Plan. That plan, developed in 2001 and primarily citizen-driven, identified the need to acquire land for the development of a new regional park and suggested that such a park would best be located in the southeast part of the community.

Throughout the planning process, individual citizens and groups such as the Diamond Council, the Soccer Club and the Youth Football League pointed out two factors: first, Cosmo Park, the City’s existing regional park, is at or is rapidly reaching its capacity; and second, the demand for their recreational programs and the need for facilities on which to provide those programs is continuing to grow, much like the population of Columbia is continuing to grow.

A strong need was identified in the master plan to acquire and develop a park similar to Cosmo which could primarily serve as an active use area with such facilities as athletic field complexes, tennis courts and other active-use recreation facilities. Today we are taking the first major step in meeting that need.

I would like to take just a moment to talk about some of the factors that make this such an outstanding acquisition for the City. First, the land is well-suited for the type of development needed. Much of the site is open pasture land, which has excellent potential for development with facilities such as athletic fields. In addition, we have the opportunity to preserve and protect a high-quality natural area along the Gans Creek watershed which flows through the property. I believe all of us here today recognize the importance of protecting this key natural resource.

A third factor is the property’s proximity to the City’s Philips and Nifong Parks and the State of Missouri’s Rock Bridge State Park. The 140-acre Philips Park adjoins the Crane property to the north, and I anticipate that we will plan and develop the two properties as one site…a total of 460 acres that is very comparable in size to Cosmo Park’s 533 acres.

The Crane property also shares a common boundary with Rock Bridge State Park on its southwest corner. Not only will the Crane property serve as a buffer to the state park, but the opportunity will exist to work with the state to connect the Rock Bridge trail system to the City’s. I envision the possibility of a trail not only linking all four of the parks mentioned, but also connecting into the City’s planned PedNet system.

Another factor is the excellent access of this site. High-quality access routes that can handle heavy traffic volumes in a safe and efficient manner are of vital importance to the success of a regional park.

The new Gans Road interchange will provide excellent access from the north, east and south segments of our community. The planned extension of Gans Road to the west to connect with Providence Road will make the site highly accessible from the west and southwest parts of the City.

Finally, I would like to talk just a moment about the future. I need to stress at this time that we do not have a detailed development plan for the park. We anticipate that our first step after acquisition will be to initiate an extensive planning effort with the goal of developing a recommended master plan for the property. The planning process will be similar to the process used to plan Stephens Lake Park.

I would expect the process to take 18 to 24 months to complete, and I can assure you that the process will include substantial opportunities for public input. We want citizens to be highly involved in the planning process. I believe we have an extraordinary opportunity to plan an active, high-use regional park using state-of-the art techniques and best management practices from throughout the country to ensure both outstanding recreational use opportunities and the protection and preservation of critical open space and natural areas.

This is an exciting time for the Parks and Recreation Department, and we are looking forward to the upcoming challenge.”

Gans Creek Recreation Area History

The City of Columbia purchased the Crane property on September 14, 2007 for $8 million. (See related Council Items.) This property lies one tract directly south of the Philips Park property. This land acquisition fulfilled the need identified in the 2002 Parks Master Plan for a second regional park to be located in southeast Columbia.

The site’s proximity to Rock Bridge State Park, the Philips Park property and Nifong Park make it an important link in an ever-growing park system. The site, which includes a portion of the sensitive Gans Creek Watershed, will offer opportunities to protect natural areas and will provide open areas suitable for active recreation. The Crane property will be easily accessible to the proposed extension of Gans Road west to Providence Road and the new Gans infrastructure.

The purchase price for the Crane property was $8 million, plus $75,000 in cost of issuing debt and related closing costs. The City’s agreement with the seller allows the seller to remain on the property for one year after the sale closing date.

The park was officially named “Gans Creek Recreation Area”opens PDF file at the 7/21/08 Council Meeting. The master planopens PDF file for the park went through an extensive public input process and was finally approved by the City Council on May 3, 2010.

Funding Source
Park Sales Tax
Capital Fund

*Financing through special obligation bonds. To be repaid by Park Sales Tax over four years.

While still undeveloped, the Gans Creek Recreation Area was added as a location for the City’s Deer Archery Hunting Program.

Phase I development of the Gans Creek Recreation Area was funded over three years, beginning in Fiscal Year 2013. The park development was funded by the 2010 Park Sales Tax.

See Gans Creek Capital Improvement Projects (chart below) for more information on the master planning and park development. Gans Creek Recreation Area and A. Perry Philips Park were master planned together to make up a southeast regional park. See also Philips Park Capital Improvement projects.

Capital Improvement Projects and Council Items

Year Completed Project Description Council Items
Related Council Items
Council Item: Park officially named “Gans Creek Recreation Area”opens PDF file
Southeast Regional Park Planning
Council Item: Agreement for Solar Eclipse Event
Gans Creek Recreation Area Improvements – Concession and Restrooms
2019 Gans Creek Recreation Area Improvements – Cross Country Course Council Item
Southeast Regional Park – Gans/Philips Phase I Council Item

Related News Articles:

Planning, parks top list for Watkins
Columbia Missourian – 6-21-06

New park planned on south side
Columbia Daily Tribune – 2-26-07

City to buy 320-acre farm for $8 million to develop park
Columbia Missourian – 2-27-07

City to pay $8 million for future park
Columbia Daily Tribune – 2-27-08

Land purchase extends city’s ‘green ring’
Columbia Missourian – 2-28-07

Making farm into parkland to cost plenty
Columbia Daily Tribune – 2-28-07

No negatives to Crane property as new park
Columbia Missourian – 3-16-07

Council approves new regional park
Columbia Daily Tribune – 3-20-07

The Crane family’s past is Columbia’s future
Columbia Missourian – 6-9-07

Parks expand city horizons
Columbia Daily Tribune – 6-17-07

City Council discusses plans for new regional conservation office
Columbia Missourian – 8-7-07

Public meetings to discuss planned regional park
Columbia Missourian – 10-23-07

Public invited to forums on new park
Columbia Daily Tribune – 11-7-07

Public debates plans for new park
Columbia Missourian – 11-9-07

Names recommended for regional park
Columbia Missourian – 7-4-08

Southeast park plan takes shape
Columbia Daily Tribune – 12-8-08

Land deal gives nature lovers a new local park
Columbia Daily Tribune – 12/10/08