HELENA – Helena city leaders want to hear from the public on their concerns about “undesirable and unlawful behavior” in the downtown area.
Mayor Wilmot Collins and the Helena City Commission will host a community conversation on the issues, at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Helena Civic Center ballroom.
Earlier this year, a number of downtown business owners sent the city a letter. They said they have seen a growing number of incidents involving homeless people or transients, especially around the 400 block of Last Chance Gulch. They said the incidents have made employees and customers uncomfortable and brought negative effects for their businesses.
“The commissioners and I got together, and we decided that we needed to take an in-depth look into what was going on,” Collins said.
Leaders put together a steering committee, including city representatives and stakeholders from the downtown area. After a series of meetings, the committee members decided to look for public input on possible solutions.
Collins said he has heard from some in the downtown area who are concerned about the homeless population, and others who said they have not seen problems. He said it’s important for all perspectives to be heard.
“How do we get to the bottom of this, how do we bring up a solution?” he asked. “That’s why this meeting is crucial for our community to participate in it, because without the community input, we can’t solve all the problems. We need more than just the commissioners.”
Collins said he expects this will be only the first in a series of meetings to determine possible options for downtown Helena.
“Come, lend us your expertise, and let’s get this solution going,” he said.