WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Businesses near Wichita’s new temporary winter shelter location in the northeast part of the city are implementing security measures ahead of its opening.
The new shelter is near businesses and organizations catering to kids.
One of those is the Boys & Girls Club. The organization says its facilities are secure, but it plans to keep kids off the playground at the front of the building while the shelter is in operation.
Another nearby facility is The Opportunity Project (TOP) Early Learning Center North, which serves about 200 young kids a year.
The TOP Early Learning Centers Executive Director Cornelia Stevens said she understands a shelter needs to be built, but it is making her reassess security needs.
“Definitely a sudden adjustment,” said Stevens. “We’ve had a couple of parents that just ask questions. They just want to know what we’re doing.”
Stevens said she’s doing her best to ease parents’ worries. Staff are meeting on Thursday to discuss security options.
“We’re willing to do whatever is necessary to make sure that, you know, the families feel safe and secure in bringing children into our center,” Stevens said.
Some of the options TOP is looking at include hiring private security and adding cameras and lighting in their facility, but that will cost them.
“I’m not sure how much it will be and what the city is going to do versus what we’re going to do, but we will make sure that our children are safe,” Stevens said.
Sedgwick County Commissioner Ryan Baty says he understands there are challenges in the new location, but officials have limited options and have to act quickly.
“We don’t want a transient population right now,” Baty said. “We want to secure the site. We want to make sure there’s police presence. We want to make sure there’s video cameras. We want to make sure that there’s enough people on hand to manage the situation.”
Stevens says she understands the strain on local officials and is working with shelter organizers to find solutions to safety concerns.