Park Sales Tax

Changing the future of trails in Columbia.
July 2021 – November 2021

Campaign Impact

Local Motion supported the 2021 Park Sales Tax renewal and strongly advocated for the inclusion of additional new trails in the Park Sales Tax project list.

350 people, businesses, and major employers submitted letters to City Council asking for additional trails to be included in the Park Sales Tax project list. At the August 16 City Council meeting, trail supporters filled the Council Chambers to show support for trails.

And it worked. City Council listened to our input, and directed City staff to update the project list to include more trails. At the September 7 Council meeting, City Council approved the revised list.

Every single trail we asked for was included in either the Priority 1 or Priority 2 project list.

And on November 2, voters renewed the Park Sales Tax for the next 10 years.

This campaign changed the course of trail-building in Columbia. Because we worked together and made the needs of the people clear, Columbia is on track to build 2-4x more trails than the original proposal.

Map of new trail locations
Image credit: Columbia Missourian
Northeast trail segments included in the Park Sales Tax highlighted in green

Campaign Summary

The draft Park Sales Tax project list included funding for the Perche Creek Trail Phase II and Hinkson Creek Trail: Clark Lane to Vandiver. This would build only 2.5 miles of new trails over the next 10 years. Revising the project list to include the additional three trails that Local Motion recommended would accelerate trail construction to build 9 miles of new trails over the next 10 years.


Local Motion recommended the revision of the Priority 1 project list to include the following new trail construction projects, in priority order:

  • COLT Railroad Trail: College to Brown Station Park (3.5 miles)
  • Bear Creek Trail: Blue Ridge to Brown Station Park (via Northeast Regional Park) (2.3 miles)
  • Hinkson Creek Trail: Brown Station Road to COLT (0.75 miles)


Columbia has a 1/4 cent sales tax that funds local parks, trails, and natural lands. Half of the tax (1/8 cent) is permanent, and the other half (1/8 cent) goes to the voters every few years for renewal. The Park Sales Tax renewal went to the voters on the November 2021 ballot. Each Park Sales Tax renewal has a project list that commits Columbia Parks & Recreation to completing specific projects using the sales tax funding.

The Park Sales Tax is the primary way that Columbia funds and builds new trails. This means that the next 10 years of trail building in Columbia were decided when City Council voted on the Park Sales Tax project list, and when voters voted on the tax renewal on the November 2021 ballot.

  • Trails are the highest use park facility in Columbia. 81% of residents use walking, hiking, and biking trails. Trails are the park facility residents visit most often (2021 Parks & Recreation Citizen Survey).
  • Trails are also the highest need park facility in Columbia. 71% of residents identified that they need access to additional walking and biking trails. This rate is equivalent to over 34,000 households.
  • Columbia falls well below Missouri’s park standards for recommended miles of trails per person. For Columbia to meet the standard, the city needs an additional 93 miles of trails.
  • Access to trails is most limited for people living in Columbia’s northern neighborhoods (Ward 2 and Ward 3).
  • The draft project list allocated 33% of total funding to new facilities for regional sports teams and sports tourism. For example, the draft project list includes $5.3 million for new construction of the Columbia Sports Fieldhouse: Phase II, yet only 6% of Columbia residents have visited the Sports Fieldhouse in the last year.
  • In contrast, the draft project list allocated only 8.8% of total funding to new trail construction (Perche Creek Trail Phase II and Hinkson Creek Trail: Clark Lane to Vandiver). Trails serve the needs of residents of nearby neighborhoods, and building a connected trail network serves the needs of the entire local community.
  • The draft project list funding for the entire Trails and Greenbelts category (i.e., new trail construction + trailhead and parking lot expansions + surface renovations + bridge replacements; $3.14 million) was less than a single item in other categories (Columbia Sports Fieldhouse Phase II, $5.3 million and Northeast Regional Park (fairgrounds), $4.125 million).
  • Columbia began building the 30-mile trail loop with the MKT in the 1980s. At the rate suggested in the draft project list, the 10 miles remaining in the 30-mile loop would be completed in the 2060s, roughly 80 years after construction began!
  • The previous 2015 Park Sales Tax funded 2.5 miles of new trails over 6 years. The 2021 Park Sales Tax draft project list would have built trails at an even slower pace, building only 2.5 miles of new trails over 10 years.

The 2021 Park Sales Tax will fund the following trail projects:

  • COLT Railroad Trail Phase I: College to Brown Station Road (2.2 miles)
  • Bear Creek Trail: Lange to Fairgrounds/Atkins Park (1.1 miles)
  • Perche Creek Trail Phase II: Gillespie Bridge Road to Smith Drive (1.2 miles)
  • Hinkson Creek Trail: Clark Lane to Vandiver (1.3 miles)
  • MKT bridge replacements
  • Cosmo Park fitness trail renovations
  • Trailhead parking lot expansions, restrooms, and bike repair equipment (Grindstone Nature Area, Stephens Lake Park)
  • Annual trails acquisition, improvements and grant match funding

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For more information, contact Lawrence Simonson at


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