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Wooded acreage becomes new Citizens Park

By Linda Waggener

Preserving the 17-acre tract of woods within the city limits was something I felt called to do, along with many others, when the Ralph Hurt property was sold after the death of his daughter Pamela Foust.

The City of Columbia wound up becoming its owner and the resulting park in this beautiful setting is coming to fruition. It will be called Citizens Park.

Mayor Hoots said people are already telling her they are enjoying the dirt walking trail even though announcements have not yet been released that it's open. She hopes to have an official opening of the park, along with its new dog park, later this month.

My friend Jackie and I walked there Saturday morning before the rains came and the trail is magical. It meanders through woods, making a loop starting at the dog park and back to parking. When we arrived one dog was happily playing in the fenced in area.

The park which enters from Burkesville Street is not officially open, there are yet to be directional signs, trash bins and more, but for now, the long range project feels real.

The beautiful canopy of leaves makes for a natural bird and bird watcher's haven - we saw or heard calls of what we thought were a cardinal, blue jay, tufted titmouse, dove, and the constant work of a woodpecker made perfect rhythm for marching to. It was fun to have an iPhone compass and see that cell service was strong in the park.

We picked up a green walnut and a what looked like an opened chestnut hull, and took pictures of huge mushrooms and thought of Marie, our science correspondent. Trees included cedar, pawpaw, poplar, oak, dogwood, maple, holly, and locust - we wished for forestry correspondent Billy Joe.

We appreciated professional landscape artist Darren Henson's design and were proud to see drainage ditches placed in big turns so heavy rains will not wash the trail away.

I got a few mosquito bites, buzzed by a common fly and walked through a couple of spider webs.

Our dreams and visions of what it can become included: an interactive nature walk for students, a garden inside the rock foundation of the old home that was lost to fire, and environmental education.

We recommend visitors do not go alone. We logged well over 2,000 steps through the woods on the trail. It's a treasure.

For information about the new park which parallels West Frazier Avenue, contact City Hall at 270-384-2501.

This story was posted on 2023-09-18 10:18:13
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New construction at Citizens Park trail entry

2023-09-18 - Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener,
Mayor Pam Hoots is pictured at the new Citizens Park with Tim Smith, Jackie Chapman and Jeff Greer as they test the benches under construction in a covered sitting area. It is located beside the new dog park near the trail entrance.

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First color discovered in new park

2023-09-18 - Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener,
These first leaves turning to fall colors were spotted in the new Citizens Park on a Saturday morning walk.

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Huge mushroom on trail edge

2023-09-18 - Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener,
We couldn't resist pausing along the Citizens Park walking trail to appreciate this huge mushroom. There were others, not nearly so grand in size, beside a fallen tree.

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Along the Citizens Park trail

2023-09-19 - Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener,
This view of the woods on the new, soon-to-open Columbia Citizens Park walking trail is about three-fourths of the way along the one mile loop.

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Chestnut in the park, maybe

2023-09-19 - Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener,
On the Citizens Park walking trail, this spiky green ball discovery looked to us like a chestnut. There are chestnut trees like the precious Kentucky Color: American Chestnut Dinosaur reported on last year on Columbia Magazine by Billy Joe Fudge. And then there are trees/nuts called "horse chestnuts." We didn't find an actual nut, but found some opened hulls, so something obviously ate one, whichever it was.

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