Downtown stakeholders discuss safety recommendations at Downtown Safety Summit forum

Thursday, March 25, 2010 | 8:23 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Downtown has room for improvement, according to participants in a public forum Thursday.

The Downtown Safety Summit was created last July to make recommendations to improve safety in The District. As part of the the summit, a public forum was held at the First Baptist Church to discuss downtown with stakeholders. Eight recommendations were presented for improving downtown safety:

  • Maintain geographic policing of the district.
  • Install public or private security cameras in areas of high crime, as designated by the police chief.
  • Improve lighting in alleys by increasing the brightness of the existing lights or installing new ones.
  • Rewrite the panhandling ordinance to give businesses a clearer entrance and exit for customers.
  • Require bar employees to pass a server training program.
  • Ask the city manager's office to designate certain weekends, especially sporting weekends, as "event nights." On such weekends, the district would be managed as a hospitality zone by adding trash cans, portable toilets and more.
  • Improve public transportation at night.
  • Install emergency call boxes in strategic areas. 

Molly Wagner, who owns Billiards on Broadway, said the recommendations were "awesome suggestions" and wanted to know how quickly they could be implemented.

"Let's take this work and go do something with it," Wagner said. "Let's make it happen now."

First Baptist Church Pastor John Baker, who is also the chairman for the Downtown Safety Summit, said if people like the ideas, they could be turned into a City Council presentation.

Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade, who is currently running for mayor, said many of the ideas don't need to be brought before council and could be worked out by businesses themselves. Other ideas, he said, could be in the council work session after the April 6 election.

"I think there's a number of things that can happen quickly," Wade said. "What has to be sorted out is which of these things require council action."

Other suggestions were made:

  • Chuck Naylor of Harpo's Bar and Grill said the city should have taxi stands where people who have been drinking can get transportation.
  • Generic Nightclub owner Will McCaskill said businesses often have problems with patrons loitering after hours, but police do not have the tools to approach them unless they are out on the street. "We don't want to infringe on people's civil liberties," McCaskill said. "We need to figure something out — maybe some extension of the frontage."
  • Stakeholders also discussed downtown cameras and whether they are effective. Keith Daly, who manages the Penguin Piano Bar, said he has not heard of anyone getting robbed at night since the seven-member Downtown Police Team was formed. He said crime has gone down and people should consider that "before we start putting money in cameras that we have to watch."

Police Chief Ken Burton said he also thinks downtown has benefited from the team and he hopes to hear ideas from citizens about how to improve.

"We want to try to keep police participation to a minimum," Burton said. "We want to hear about what citizens want."

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Ray Shapiro March 26, 2010 | 8:22 p.m.

("The Downtown Safety Summit was created last July to make recommendations to improve safety in The District. As part of the the summit, a public forum was held at the First Baptist Church to discuss downtown with stakeholders.")

A Public Forum?

For the purpose to Discuss or Report/Tell/Announce?

From a Report, March 18, 2010
Downtown Safety Topic at Open Forum

At an open summit on downtown safety next Thursday, residents are invited to air concerns and ideas on downtown issues.
The safety summit includes a group of downtown stakeholders who have met for several months discussing ways to make Columbia safer while maintaining a thriving business district. The group, formed as a result of discussions between Columbia police and the city manager’s office, will host an open forum at 5:30 p.m. next Thursday to hear from business owners, not-for-profit organization members, residents and other downtown Columbia professionals, residents or patrons. The forum will be held in Fellowship Hall at First Baptist Church, 1112 E. Broadway.
The forum is the first public event summit members have scheduled.

Also, ("FoUrth Ward Councilman and mayoral candidate Jerry Wade said many of the proposals do not need council approval and can be implemented by locating the correct city employee to find a solution.")
Is Jerry Wade all ready acting as councilman-at-large or was Paul Sturtz not available for this First Ward interest in "The District?"

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.