COLUMBIA – The Columbia City Council voted in five new police review board members at their Monday night meeting.
Three vacancies on the board had existed since it was suspended in August. The suspension was caused by three members resigning from the board. Mayor Barbara Buffaloe added at that time that there was “unwelcome behavior” at a recent board meeting.
Of the three open slots on the board, two of them will have their term end in 2024, while the third member will expire by 2023. Two of current board member positions are opening Nov. 1 and will serve a term till 2025.
The 5 newest members appointed at the Monday meeting are:
- Edward Barnes, 2025
- Xavier Scruggs, 2025
- Reece Ellis, 2024
- Laura Gutierrez Perez, 2024*
- Stephanie Coleman, 2023
*Gutierrez Perez is currently on the Police Review Board and is one of the two members having their term end on Nov. 1. She re-applied and was appointed to one of the vacant positions.
Proposed improvements for Ash Street
There was a public hearing at Monday night’s Council meeting for proposed improvements on Ash Street between Providence Road and Clinksdale Road, or about one and a half miles.
The plan for the area would narrow the roads from 13 to 11 feet across, and allow for wider sidewalks on both sides. It would also allow a continuous bike lane for the entire stretch between Providence Road and Clinksdale Road. The proposal suggested the use of a roundabout at the intersection of Ash Street and West Boulevard.
More than 20 residents spoke during the public hearing. Several people at the meeting were with the “Pedestrians for Ash Street” Group.
“Pedestrians for Ash Street” largely supported the changes to Ash, include the goals of slowing traffic flow and increasing space for pedestrians and bikers. However, they opposed the proposed roundabout. “Pedestrians for Ash Street” member Valerie Carroll spoke about the group’s opposition to roundabouts in the area.
“We are disappointed to still be talking about roundabouts,” Carroll said.
The Council voted to approve the next phase of development for the project, which would include surveying the area.
Temporary closure of parking lanes and sidewalks at development on East Broadway and Tenth Street
City Council members voted to authorize a temporary closure of parking lanes and sidewalks surrounding the construction project at 1000 East Broadway from October 18 2022 to August 15 2023.
The developer of the project at 1000 East Broadway Discovery Development, LLC has been in the process of building a covered walkway around the development under agreement with the city.
The authorization of the parking lane and sidewalk closures at Monday’s Council meeting allowed the covered walkway to open on Tuesday.
FUSUS system Follow-up Report
Columbia Police Chief Geoff Jones presented the council a follow-up report on the use of a FUSUS surveillance software in Columbia. The software was presented to the council by FUSUS representatives at a pre-city council meeting on Oct. 3.
The FUSUS software would allow residents and business owners to opt-in to sending video from their surveillance cameras to the Columbia Police Department after potential unlawful activity. The software would also be able to search across multiple videos for designated objects.
Several residents and Councilmembers Pat Fowler and Roy Lovelady expressed concerns about the potential implementation of FUSUS. Councilmember Lovelady questioned the usefulness of the FUSUS software.
“To me this isn’t a preventative measure, it’s an aftermath measure,” Lovelady said.
Columbia City Council will not move on approving the FUSUS software until policy about its implementation and training is proposed.