Columbia trail issue revived

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The Gedern Village Homeowners Association on Monday night renewed its interest in the stretch of an abandoned railroad track right-of-way in Columbia that has been in dispute since late 2016.

In 2017, members of Gedern Village voiced opposition to the Columbia City Council about a plan to connect multiple walking trails in the city, which would include part of the GM&O Heritage Trail within the subdivision.

Pictured is a map of the Gedern Village subdivision. The blue circle denotes the area in question. The GM&O Trail is denoted in yellow.

Attorney Timothy Gutknecht spoke about the issue on behalf of the Gedern Village HOA Monday night during a meeting of the Columbia City Council’s Committee of the Whole.

Prior to the meeting, Gutknecht provided a letter to council members that he had sent to Columbia city attorney Terry Bruckert regarding the parcel of land in dispute.

In the letter, Gutknecht explained that the tract the subdivision is claiming, which abuts the GM&O Heritage Trail, should have been conveyed to the trustees of the subdivision per an agreement signed in the mid-1990s.

In 2017, Gutknecht found “there was still a stretch of the former railroad right-of way that was not included in any of the platted subdivisions surrounding it,” the letter stated.

Without clear ownership of the property, use and upkeep of the land is legally unclear. The City of Columbia had maintained the area until 2017, but stopped when the ownership issue became unclear.

Several members of Gedern Village were on hand to say that the HOA and members have also been tending the area since the subdivision began.

The committee took no action on the issue, but Bruckert and Columbia City Administrator Douglas Brimm asked for more information to be presented regarding the HOA’s upkeep of the land in question.

Read more in the Dec. 4 issue of the Republic-Times.

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