Changes are afoot in Columbia, as a new director of community development is added to the City Hall roll and the long-planned realignment of Gall Road at Route 3 and South Main Street gets underway in earnest.
The city council at their July 2 meeting approved the hiring of Scott Dunakey as the new director of community development.
“I am excited about Columbia’s growth potential,” he said. “I hope to help Columbia grow responsibly without sacrificing its unique character and identity.”
Dunakey most recently worked as the planning team leader for Professional Engineering Consultants in Wichita, Kan., where he spent almost 10 years. He graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science in Community and Regional Planning and a Master of Science in Community and Economic Development from University of Central Arkansas.
He said growing up in St. Louis and Franklin counties, he remembers coming to Columbia to buy lottery tickets with his grandparents.
“Columbia is part of some of my fondest childhood memories, which I recalled when reading the job posting,” he said. “My interest grew after conducting research and making a visit. But I knew this was where I wanted to work after meeting several city staff members and aldermen during the interview process.”
Dunakey and his wife, Kim, live in Alton, where Kim works at BJC Alton Memorial Hospital. They have an 18-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son.
“I’m happy to be here and look forward to working closely with the community,” he added.
In other Columbia news:
• Columbia began its Gall Road reconstruction project this week at the intersection with Route 3 and South Main Street.
As of July 9, access to Gall Road from Route 3 is closed for approximately six weeks.
The project is funded through a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program grant, with the state paying 80 percent and city paying the remaining 20 percent. The state’s portion is capped at $400,000 for engineering and construction.
The main element of the project is to add a designated left turn lane for drivers exiting Gall Road onto northbound Route 3. This will require widening the intersection to align the lanes with those of South Main Street, installing new stoplights reflecting the additional lane, and adding sidewalks. The sidewalks will extend from the entrance to Oerter Park on the north side of Gall Road to Route 3, and on the south side of Gall Road from near the Shoemaker Schoolhouse parking lot to southbound Route 3, extending about 25 feet to the MetroBus stop.
During the closure, a detour will direct vehicles from Route 3 to westbound Valmeyer Road to south on D Road, to east on Steppig Road, then northeast on Gall Road. The entire detour is about five miles long and will potentially add about 10 minutes of drive time.
The roadway should be re-opened by Aug. 17, in time for the start of the 2018-19 school year. After that, remaining work will be conducted with lane reductions during off-peak traffic times.
• Columbia has launched an initiative called POP-UP SHOP, which offers short-term leases of Shoemaker Schoolhouse to small businesses. The program is geared toward vendors who want to enter the Historic Main Street market, and is not available for direct sales marketing vendors, food vendors, catalog-based sales or sales of mass purchased or wholesale items.
To learn more about the program, requirements and limitations, call 281-7144, ext. 134.