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Columbia park involved in unsolved shooting will receive structural changes

A park at the center of an unsolved shooting in Columbia will soon see structural improvements.

On July 4, police say two men entered the park and started shooting at least 29 times, leaving one man injured.

Now, Columbia Parks and Recreation budget about $50,000 in changes for Downtown Optimist Park on 100 East Forest Avenue. On Saturday, city leaders hosted an input meeting during the park’s neighborhood association meeting.

The money will fund the replacement of the pavilion, playground equipment and smaller changes, like adding more trash cans.

The general consensus agreed with the changes, but a neighbor’s idea to propose adding security cameras into the list of renovations got mixed feelings.

“Security cameras in the provision there would be nice, but if it’s going to cost, I say just leave it,” said one neighbor that lives next to the park.

Another neighbor said, “I think the best safety would be to, you know, just have the park improved and also to have activities there.”

Douglass Park is another park at the center of multiple incidents. That’s why the city slated a separate budget just for security improvements, including adding two security cameras worth just over $6,000.

However, neighbors in the meeting say for them it’s not necessary.

“The best security is the neighborhood watching the park,” said Matt Boehner with Parks and Recreation. “If you see something you don’t like, you know, call the police.”

Most neighbors agreed with Boehner, saying it’s not just up to police to keep watch on the area.

ABC 17 asked the Columbia Police Department if they’ve increased patrols in the neighborhood at all since the shooting. Officer Latisha Stroer said they have done proactive patrols off and on in all areas of Columbia.

Police have not made any arrests or have any updates in the July 4 shooting. The investigation is ongoing.

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