Business owners concerned over mission’s expansion in Downtown Pasco

Business owners concerned over mission’s expansion in Downtown Pasco

The Union Gospel Mission sits on 2nd Ave in Pasco and has been serving the homeless community for over 50 years. The mission is expanding with a new men’s facility to be built on a 6.5-acre lot in Downtown Pasco, just off of Columbia Street. Some business owners in the area are now concerned the mission will negatively impact their businesses.

“We’re trying to revitalize Downtown Pasco, said Rolando Rodriguez, owner of Sol Case Management, a business that sits across the street from the mission’s lot. “We’re trying to recruit more businesses and that goes contrary to that.”

Fourteen businesses in the area have expressed concern over the mission’s expansion. Fellow Pasco resident, Russell Glatt, joined Rodriguez at a city council meeting Monday night to fight for their voices to be heard.

“We would like Downtown Pasco to be an area we can be proud of and not be an area where if you’re down and out, come to Downtown Pasco,” said Glatt.

A letter sent to Pasco City Manager, Dave Zabell, requests the city review the mission’s building permit be reviewed to determine if it is void. According to Rodriguez’s attorney, John Ziobro, the permit is void if obtained after October 31, 2013. Ziobro said his party believes the Special Use Permit obtained by the Union Gospel Mission is void.

Though many businesses in the area are in agreement with Rodriguez and Glatt, not all share the same concerns.

“I think it’s a blessing. I think they fill a niche, there’s definitely a need,” said Janis Hastings, owner of Columbia Basin Paper & Supply. “I feel that they’re doing God’s work and it really does give an opportunity to people who have fallen through the cracks.”

The homeless population in Pasco has grown substantially in the last few years, according to Union Gospel Mission’s Executive Director Andrew Porter. He said the current facility cannot serve everyone who needs the mission’s help.

“We’re too crowded at the mission so this facility is actually going to be better for the downtown,” said Porter.
UGM bought the land in 2011 and expects the facility to be completed next summer, if building is allowed to continue.

“Without this facility it’s just going to get worse downtown. “We already have a lot of homeless people sleeping on the streets, said Porter.

Rodriguez said he is not against the mission, just the location and what it will mean for the area.

“One business owner thinks it’s a good idea, maybe but somewhere else. Fourteen business owners have already said they aren’t interested,” said Rodriguez.

He said he is waiting to hear back from the city after it reviews the matter.