8/30/2014

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Yakima woman on Millennium Plaza: 'It's become a place for drugs and bums'

Yakima woman on Millennium Plaza: 'It's become a place for drugs and bums'
YAKIMA, Wash. -- It's a small, but interesting park. Filled with sculptures and plaques to attract visitors. But lately, Millennium Plaza is filled with more homeless people than art.

"This is supposed to be a park and a welcoming place in Yakima," said Gabby Schweers who walks by the park to get to work. "It's become a place for drugs and bums."

Gabby has seen it all.

"I come through here and find 1/2 eaten food, we will find needles," said Gabby.

Gabby says it's so bad that she actually parks at the police department and walks the two blocks to get to work at Olive Garden.

"This is all getting to be a very big fear area," said Gabby. "People are afraid to come down here, afraid to walk by themselves."

There's no doubt it's affecting business at nearby Sports Center.

"We've found people doing drugs in our bathroom," said Sports Center Owner Travis Heitman.

He says he's even found homeless people from the plaza bathing inside.

"Most people just walk out when they find people bathing in the bathrooms," said bartender Christian Durham. "It's nowhere you want to go and it's not the reputation you want."

A sculpture is missing from the plaza and downtown crews tell me it's a constant strain on resources. I also learned the plaza has become a bus stop for homeless people being brought to and from a local shelter.

"That's our taxpayer money going down the drain," Gabby.

I'm told Yakima leaders are aware of the problem and looking for solutions. But for now, Gabby will continue getting a little exercise on her way to work.

Downtown cleanup crews tell us they've also seen more graffiti in that area.
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