Monday, August 1, 2011

CITY COUNCIL EERILY QUIET: On eminent domain threat to Audubon sanctuary

Would Council members agree to take eminent domain off the table permanently?
COLUMBIA, 8/1/11  (Beat Byte) --  With the exception of Second Ward Columbia City Councilman Jason Thornhill, Council members did not respond to this publication's request eight days ago that they answer two questions:    
1)  Do any of you support the use of eminent domain against the Audubon Society?  

2)  If not, would you be willing to sign a resolution disavowing its use in this case, should Audubon members reject the current settlement, which has been clouded with charges of "eminent domain duress?"
Two weeks ago, amidst suspicions that City Hall was prepared to use eminent domain to get a bike and walking trail through land owned by the Columbia Audubon Society, Council members approved a tentative "compromise agreement" allowing the trail that awaits a full vote of Audubon members.  The agreement was designed to settle an unusual dispute between the Audubon Society, which received the land as a donation for a pristine nature sanctuary, and pedestrian/bicycle enthusiasts who want a $980,000 trail through the 22-acre property in West Columbia. 
"I can honestly tell you that not one time in any single conversation,
phone call or email did I discuss eminent domain."
-- Councilman Jason Thornhill
An opening quote in a Missourian article sums up the settlement:  "Fueled by fear, members of the Columbia Audubon Society (CAS) made a deal in order to protect their land as best they could."   The fear -- that City Hall might use eminent domain to take land for the trail by force -- was first suggested by the Audubon Society's attorney, Craig van Matre. 
"This might sound naïve, but I can honestly tell you that not one time in any single conversation, phone call or email did I discuss eminent domain (theoretical, pending, promised or otherwise)," Thornhill told the Heart Beat.  "I sincerely was relieved to see a compromise reached with the Board of Directors.  If the intentions of the Audubon Society are to make this a 'gem' in the parks system and to in turn, reach as many possible residents to encourage both access and education, then I believe that the trail as proposed and accepted can help achieve that goal while disturbing as little natural vegetation and wildlife as one can expect to."   
Thornhill said he supports the sanctuary trail as a way to "expose otherwise unsuspecting trail-goers to an area few know exist."  Though the land is already open to the public as a nature sanctuary, "most of the people I spoke to just assumed it was private farmland."   


  1. I find it ironic that the Get About - Ped-Nut liberals of the ram our lifestyle down everyones throat and make you pay for it variety, are at loggerheads with the Audubon liberals, of the bird watching variety. I have not a shadow of a doubt however that the left wingers of Audubon would have no problem seizing private property to establish a bird sanctuary or something. Funny how the tables can turn.

    That being said the Audubon society has every right to maintain full possession of its property against frivolous projects such as this.

    I believe Jason Thornhill when he stated that at no time did he discuss eminent domain. The threat probably did not come from the city council or current mayor. It more than likely oringinated in the bowels of the city bureaucracy which is littered with Ped-Net advocates placed there years ago with the encouragement of former mayor Hindman.

  2. For the sake of the preserve and to maintain the integrity of the land donation's original intent of a PRISTINE environment, I certainly hope that the full vote of Audubon members enlighten the PedNet advocates that they are more than welcome to ride their bicycles in the gutters all ready surrounding the sanctuary.
    What's next? Bicycle trails through church alters?

  3. Allow me to translate for Anonymous:
    Eye find it ironical that (label/ stereotype) vs. (label/stereotype) because everbodee is the same. Black and White. If’n eye don’t agree wit sumone they must b of the same mind. Eye have not a shadow of a doubt that (label/stereotype) would object to my use of imminent domain to establish a shrine for my sniveling ad-homonym attacks on groups that I do not know nor understand.
    Insert a conspiracy about the makeup of the guvermint and Huey P. Long.
    P.S. Now I will go enjoy all this community has to offer while I complain about the groups that made it a quality community.

  4. The latest poster just showed the arrogance of these groups. It is "they" who make it a quality community. It is "their" ideas that only hold value. There is much more to quality of life than slathering paint everywhere and laying down gravel for bike trails for the minority of people who use them. Show's the elitism and one track mind of these people.

  5. Not sure why you are so angry about the work of GetAbout Columbia or Ped-Net, as if the automobile industry and people's obsessions with this mode of transport has not been rammed down anyone's throat. Really, who is being arrogant here? As far as I can tell, there are quite a few other Missouri communities, and some rather "conservative" Missouri communities at that, installing trails for walking and cycling. Imagine, those crazies even think that it might improve the health of their communities. Elitism, one track mind, give me a break.