Westside Neighborhood Residents Raise Concern Over Transients, Needles and Crime
Missoula Council chambers were packed this Monday with folks from the westside neighborhood, raising concerns about public safety and a rising crime rate in the area. Resident Cathy Wachowski was one of the first to speak.
"We are talking about needles," Wachowski said. "There are so many needles that the Zip Trip now has a needle collection in their bathroom. A bicycle cop also told me that he finds many needles. We have seen people shooting up on the California Street bridge. We have seen transients pass up and down our street. I used to always tell people who didn't live in Missoula that Missoula is a magic town, that it was beautiful, that it was a wonderful community to live it and that it was safe. I am quite concerned now that I am not sure I can say that last line any longer."
One woman described a man threatening to kill her sons, her husband and even her dog. She says police told her to have a shotgun in the home. Skylar Hollingsworth expressed his concern for his father’s safety.
"He has been followed and he has been threatened walking home from the Zip Trip," Hollingsworth said. "My father is visually impaired and I worry about the guy. I try to check in on him as often as I can. While going around his yard, I found different make shift campsites, stolen goods, whether it be bicycles or large propane tanks. There have been dirty needles scattered up and down that block. My friend who had that great misfortune of working as a graveyard shift gas station attendant at the Zip Trip, one evening I go in and he showed me something. He said come over here and check this out. In the women's bathroom someone took a piece of bubble gum and a dirty needle and set it up as a booby trap rig so that if you sat down it would get you right in the thigh."
Many expressed concerns about the California street bridge, saying that it was unsafe to cross, even during daylight hours and that they would not let their children play alone at the park. Mayor Engen thanked the crowd for expressing their concerns and told them that the city would “try to work it out, I guarantee you we won’t solve it overnight, but we will do our best.”