Veterans complex hopes for more disability access

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COLUMBIA – Patriot Place opened less than a month ago, giving some veterans a place to call home.

But its newest residents are already looking to make some renovations around the facility.

Sarah Grim, CEO of Welcome Home, Inc., said the complex doesn't have surrounding sidewalks, bus stops or lighting.

"What we would really like to see happen is that there is a bus stop and a bus shelter at our location, that the sidewalks end up going somewhere and that the lighting has improved so that it’s a safe community for our veterans as well as everyone else in that area," Grim said. 

Welcome Home, Inc. is a transitional emergency shelter for the homeless and is also campus partners with Patriot Place. According to Grim, once construction is completed, there will be sidewalks in front of Welcome Home as well as the Landmark Hospital across the street.

"We had a couple members who were concerned that while there is a beautiful new sidewalk out there, it doesn’t really lead to anything. So you’re either in gravel or you’re on the road which is very fast, very busy, and it’s kind of dangerous," said Chuck Graham, chair of the Disabilities Commission.

The Disabilities Commission met earlier this month to help the city find solutions to provide more accessibility to the area surrounding Patriot Place. 

"The City Council could take up the issue to require adjacent landowners to do that. But they really couldn’t do that just for this one place. They would have to change the policy all over town," Graham said.

City Councilman Ian Thomas said he hopes to have the city council address these concerns, but added the council needs to find room in the budget. He addressed these concerns this month in the Pedestrian Task Force’s Vision Zero report.

Sarah Froese, with the Truman VA Hospital, said the hospital is currently working one-on-one with the veterans at Patriot Place to provide transportation.

"It’s very difficult to see people in wheelchairs when they actually have to get out and use the road. They’re very likely to get hit, more likely than a pedestrian," Graham said.

"We’ve done as much as we can and we’ll work with the city as much as we can to make sure it happens," Grim said.