A Columbia city advisory council is calling for action regarding issues stemming from the use of Wabash Bus Station as a warming and cooling station.
At a meeting Wednesday evening, the Downtown Columbia Leadership Council voted to express support for a letter penned by The Downtown Community Improvement District that addressed how Wabash has impacted surrounding local businesses.
The District presented the letter to Columbia City Council in July and supported it with testimony at the Aug. 2 council meeting.
“I would like the city to do their job, which is provide equitable living for everyone,” Anna Meyer, owner of Range Free Bakery & Cafe, told the leadership council Wednesday in testimony supporting the letter.
Meyer said she believes the city is failing to solve the problems that cause homelessness and poverty, therefore causing a hostile environment for businesses, customers and residents. She supports the letter’s call for reverting Wabash back into the role it had before it was a warming center and strengthening police presence in the area.
Meyer told the leadership council she has witnessed drug dealing, drug use and violence around Wabash and in her store on a regular basis.
“A lot of people that come in there, I don’t see camping at Wabash or utilizing CoMo aid services. I see them there, dealing or using,” Meyer said.
John Trapp, co-founder of 4-A-Change, also addressed the leadership council Wednesday. Trapp and 4-A-Change have a contract with the city to help homeless in the downtown area.
Trapp echoed many of Meyer’s arguments and called on the city to open a safer, better funded alternative to Wabash. He emphasized that if Wabash closed, many of the homeless individuals that sleep there would have to go back to sleeping on the downtown streets.
He said in his testimony that the number of emergency calls he receives involving Wabash has increased from one or two a month to eight or nine in recent months.
Trapp told the leadership council there is nothing singular volunteers or city employees can do to stop the problems around Wabash; they must be met at higher economical and governmental levels.
Chair Scott Wilson will draft the leadership council’s letter of support for the District’s letter which will then be sent to city council.