Completing the loop for the footpath around is being studied for possible inclusion in the Columbia Association's budget as early as fiscal year 2013 or 2014, according to staff members.
Board members at the association's Oct. 13 meeting gave the go-ahead for staff members to collect information needed to assess the affordability of the project.
The board has not voted to move forward with the project, nor has it committed any funding at this point, according to Chick Rhodehamel, the association's director of sustainability.
"This is just an OK to do some homework to provide board members with more information about the project," he said.
Currently, a path in the shape of a big "U" around the lake dead-ends in a heavily wooded, rough-terrain area.
"To complete the "O," we have to jump over the lake," Rhodehamel said. "That means building a footbridge across the water."
Some creative thinking and use of dredged materials has already cut down on the cost of completing the pathway.
Two mini-peninsulas created from dredged materials jut out from either side of the lake. A footbridge is needed to connect those two fingers.
While he doesn't know the distance, Rhodehamel said the space that needs to be closed with a footbridge is considerably smaller than the more than 200-foot distance that existed without the man-made peninsulas.
Association officials know there is community interest in seeing the loop completed, Rhodehamel said.
An association employee for 33 years, Rhodehamel said he's heard on and off since the 1980s that residents would like to see the loop completed, and they point to other Columbia lakes that have full paths around them.
The first phase of the project, if approved, would involve the design, permitting and engineering work, at an estimated cost of about $50,000.