There were no Taylor Swift sightings at Monday’s Columbus City Council meeting, but the first meeting of the new era – or fiscal year – saw collaboration serve as the focal point.
The Council on Oct. 2 unanimously signed off on a resolution approving a recreational area lease agreement with Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM) Company for river access in the general area south of Southeast 9th Street and abutting the Loup River, establishing another access point to the Loup River intended for use as part of an established recreational water trail.
Through this new point, visitors can come to Columbus to enjoy a two-three-hour float by entering Pawnee Park and exiting at the ADM site. The agreement comes after City Administrator Tara Vasicek and City Attorney Neal Valorz worked extensively over the last year with ADM leadership.
It also follows ongoing collaborative efforts among officials from Platte County, the City of Columbus, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Columbus Area Recreational Trails, Columbus Morning Rotary, the Ramada Hotel and River’s Edge Convention Center. Back in May 2023, area officials gathered outside the Ramada Hotel to celebrate the grand opening of another access point on the water trail. You can learn more by reading the previously published story by clicking here. This access point near ADM will be the fourth to exist so far as part of a previously created Master Plan.
“I think it’s really important to highlight the collaboration that’s going on with multiple people involved in this and really give kudos to ADM for stepping up.” Mayor Jim Bulkley said during the meeting. “They’ve been very receptive to the concept and the idea and what can they do to try to be a partner with things like this that are going on in our community.”
[GET A CLOSER LOOK AT THE MAP OF WHERE THE ACCESS POINT NEAR ADM WILL BE BY CLICKING HERE]
Ken Curry, a longtime Columbus resident and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission District 3 representative, addressed the Council during the meeting to talk about the importance of the project. He discussed how adding this access point to the trail will help attract visitors from places like Omaha and Lincoln, noting the potential for a relevant outfitter to start a business in relation to it.
Curry, a former chairman and vice chairman of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, said the Loup River is a tremendous asset to the community while recalling his childhood.
“As a kid growing up in Lincoln, we would come up here to Pawnee Park for family reunion picnics and we played in that river,” Curry said. “It’s a beautiful river. We always talked about from a Chamber’s perspective, the assets of this town, and that river is one of them.”
The major requirement of the lease agreement is the installation of lighting and fencing at the site. It was noted during the meeting Vasicek and ADM officials have been working in hopes the latter can put in an application with the Columbus Area Visitors’ Bureau for a grant to cover 50% of the fencing, which is estimated to cost approximately $40,000. Other sources of funding will also be explored, with Vasicek mentioning the City will likely receive a request to assist with funding a portion of the fence.
Curry praised the Columbus City Council, the City of Columbus, ADM and all community partners for working together to make the water trail project a reality.
“The City Council has been tremendous … I can’t speak highly enough of ADM,” Curry said after the meeting. “This is tremendous collaboration. This community always comes together to do good things, and this is just another one.”
The City’s 2023-2024 fiscal year began Oct. 1, 2023 and runs through Sept. 30, 2024.
Watch the quick meeting recap video “Council Minute” with Mayor Bulkley on the City’s YouTube channel by clicking here.
Watch the video of the meeting in full on the City’s YouTube channel by clicking here.
Copyright © 2023 City of Columbus.