A proposal by Boys and Girls Town of Missouri to zone and annex land along Bearfield Road will be the subject of a public hearing before the Columbia City Council today.
Boys and Girls Town received a positive recommendation at the last meeting of the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission to bring about 5.5 acres of land south of Nifong Boulevard into the city. The group hopes to use six multi-family residences on the property to house children in the program and to provide offices for Boys and Girls Town staff.
Boys and Girls Town was established in Columbia in 1973. It already has two houses — one for girls and one for boys — that have the capacity to house 32 children or young adults between ages 12 and 21. There are 31 children in those homes now.
The organization provides temporary and long-term residential treatment, transitional living and individual, group and family therapy. It focuses on the needs of children who have problems with substance abuse, sexual abuse, sexual issues and body image. Its services also include medical, psychiatric and psychological assessments.
Boys and Girls Town spokeswoman Denise LaHay said the organization is planning for the new center in Columbia and hopes it will include a feature it doesn’t offer at its other Missouri facilities.
“We’re still working on the plan, but we are possibly looking to include an on-site school,” LaHay said. “This school would serve the children who are in residence.” Those children now attend Columbia Public Schools.
The local branch of Boys and Girls Town serves primarily Boone County residents, but they can come from all over mid-Missouri. LaHay said the group hopes the new center will also allow them to expand its family therapy program.