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Downtown Columbia Leadership Council reviews proposed plan for Wabash Bus station

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The Downtown Columbia Leadership Council heard local business owners' complaints about the Wabash Bus Station at its meeting Wednesday.

The bus station has been used as temporary shelter for the homeless.

Downtown Community Improvement District (CID) Executive Director Nickie Davis said the situation has caused problems for local businesses.

Local business owners voiced their frustration with the homeless population taking advantage of their facilities.

"This kind of thing has our businesses taking up providing those different things for people that are sleeping on the sidewalks or on the Wabash area," Davis said.

The CID composed a letter, which the Downtown Columbia Leadership Council approved. The letter outlines a plan recommending the following:

  • End camping and 24-hour access to the Wabash Bus Station
  • Provide a stronger Columbia Police Department presence in the downtown Columbia area
  • Faster response times when 311 is dialed
  • CPD, 311, and the district create a monthly safety report for the area
  • Columbia provides more resources to groups helping those in need for mental health responses

In March, the City of Columbia stated in a news release that the Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services coordinates a network of warming and cooling centers in the community during extreme temperatures, including the Wabash Bus Station.

It costs the city roughly $180 on armed security when the bus station was used as a warming shelter during the day. The cost increases to $350 when the station is used as a warming center overnight.

Davis said that Wabash isn't an adequate solution.

"(Wabash) continues to be a campground for a lot of our unsheltered friends, and it's just a really not healthy situation, there are no bathrooms there, there are no showers there," Davis said.

Local business owners voiced their concerns for their employees, with a few of them stating that their staff doesn't feel safe or they have had to deal with unruly people. This sparked a conversation that the issue lies with the drug use happening at the station, with members of the committee agreeing.

Scott Wilson, the Chair of the Downtown Leadership Council, said the drug use has made the Wabash area unsafe.

"Just really the problems with aggressive drug addicted people downtown that aren't necessarily, and most of them aren't, homeless," Wilson said.

"We are here to help and support as much as we can. Both our business and the people that need aid and resources," Davis said.

The letter will now be sent to the Columbia City Council for review.

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Marina Diaz

Marina is a Multimedia Journalist for ABC 17 News, she is originally from Denver, Colorado. She went to Missouri Valley College where she played lacrosse and basketball, and anchored her school’s newscast.

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