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North Columbia residents discuss community improvements at neighborhood meeting

Residents living on the north side of the city are continuing their efforts to bring improvements and more activities for children to their neighborhoods.

“Our priority is with the youth,” said Sophia Smith, a north Columbia resident. “But also with the parents too, because it starts at home.”

A couple of dozen residents met at Derby Ridge Elementary Thursday evening for their second Community Unity Meeting lead by Columbia Police Department Community Outreach Officers.

COU officer Scott Lenger, who has been assigned to the city’s north strategic neighborhood for about two years, said the meetings are important for police to learn the residents’ concerns and needs.

Trash was a big concern among residents at Thursday night’s meeting. Residents also discussed upcoming activities planned for children in the spring, including fishing trips, nature walks and community park days.

Columbia Parks and Recreation also spoke to residents about upcoming improvements planned at parks in their neighborhoods. The city plans to add more swings and soccer goals to Auburn Hills Park in 2018.

“Our ultimate goal is to attract more people to visit those parks in those neighborhoods,” said Gabe Huffington, park services manager.

Earlier in the year, the city helped install a basketball hoop at the dead end street of Edenton Boulevard off of Brown Station Road. In the past month, the city installed lights to allow children to play outside longer.

North Columbia residents will have another space to call their own with the addition of the city’s new police precinct, which will be built at Rangeline and International Drive.

On Monday, the city council approved preliminary plans for the new substation, which include a community room.

“It’s very exciting,” Smith said. “At least it would give the youth somewhere to go that’s a positive place.”

Lenger said the substation will allow officers to serve the residents better. He agrees the community room will be beneficial.

“Having that community area will be good for the residents up here to be able to do things in a safe place,” he said. “I think that’s the most important thing.”

Final design plans are still in the works. The city is hoping to break ground on the project in summer or fall of 2018.

North Columbia residents will hold another meeting in January.

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