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Some Business Owners Concerned About Recovery Community Center in Downtown Cape Girardeau

Cape Girardeau, Missouri (KFVS) – In downtown Cape Girardeau, concerns are growing over the local community center and the crowds it flocks to Broadway.

The We Do Recover Community Center is located at Block 700 on Broadway.

According to the Gibson Center for Behavior Change, the center is a gathering place for newly recovered addicts where they can spend time together and get close to the services they need.

However, several business owners nearby say their clients are losing patience and business because they are openly using drugs and harassing passers-by.

Seeing needles open at Flesh Hound Tattoo shops is nothing new. However, owner Lenny Gordon says he found a used hypodermic needle on his property.

And she’s seen them used.

“I saw people taking off their shoes and using syringes to inject drugs into their feet,” says Gordon. “It’s on the sidewalk across the street.”

Gordon’s Tattoo Shop is across from the We Do Recover Community Center.

Renee Gordon, owner of Flesh Hound Tattoo, shares concerns about crowds gathering outside the center.(KFVS)

“My concern is basically losing business,” she says. “Not just us, but our neighbors too.”

I heard the same concerns across from River City Coins and Jewelry.

“We’ve had several complaints from customers about being harassed,” says owner Mike Sprouse. “There were some older people who wanted to join, but they saw this group and decided they didn’t want to join.”

On August 13, 2022, a needle was found in an alley next to Flesh Hound Tattoo.
On August 13, 2022, a needle was found in an alley next to Flesh Hound Tattoo.(Flesh Hound Tattoo)

Gordon showed me a cell phone video she recorded on a Friday afternoon in July.

“It’s loud and loud,” she says of the crowd.

Shane Sprouse of River City Coins describes what he saw and heard.

“Yelling and yelling at people across the street,” Sprouse said. “And the once peaceful street turned into a nightmare with all this negativity.”

Sprouse also describes an incident a few weekends ago when a mother and her teenage daughter walked into a coin shop.

“And I was like, ‘Are you okay?’ are you kidding me ‘ And she was like, ‘Mom, I want to go. i have to get out of here

River City Coins and Jewelry owners Mike Sprouse and son Shane Sprouse share their concerns...
River City Coins and Jewelry owners Mike Sprouse and his son Shane Sprouse share concerns about the crowds gathering outside the center.(KFVS)

I took these concerns directly to Ryan Essex, Chief Operating Officer of the Gibson Center for Behavioral Change, which runs this community center.

“Certainly, we want to be good neighbors,” says Essex. “We want to do what we can to support local businesses. We are local businesses.”

Essex describes the facility as a support center. No treatment.

Instead, it is designed to provide a safe, substance-free gathering place for people who have recovered from addiction.

“Over 250 unique individuals walked through our doors last month.”

Essex says steps have been taken to prevent large crowds from gathering outside the center. I said it wasn’t a problem at Cape Girardeau.

“If anyone sees something like that happening, they should call the authorities because we will not condone any illegal activity happening around our facility.”

Ryan Essex of the Gibson Center for Behavioral Change gave us a tour inside the Community Center.
Ryan Essex of the Gibson Center for Behavioral Change gave us a tour inside the Community Center.(KFVS)

We asked Mike Sprouse, who has been in business downtown for 29 years, if he has a solution.

“Because they move this place to another,” he replied.

Is this the right place for them to experience early recovery? We asked Essex.

“The right place is where they came in at one of our doors,” he replied. “If someone is 20 hours or under the influence, we may be able to have other facilities here in town to better meet their needs. We are trying to get there.”

These business owners tell me they are not against what the Center is doing. They don’t think this busy downtown corridor is the place to do it.

“I love the downtown vibe,” says Lenny Gordon. “I am happy that people are starting to develop this area. I think we are at a precarious crossroads now.”

Both Gordon and Sprouse provided me with letters they sent to City Hall. Cape Girardeau Mayor Stacey Kinder says she hasn’t received them.

After I gave her a copy, she met with me to share her thoughts on the situation.

“Certainly, the City of Cape wants to address any concerns, especially safety concerns that our business owners and residents have,” Kinder said. “If there is a specific issue that all our downtown multipurpose users are having, we need to know about it. We need to respond and we need to be able to respond to them quickly.

Mayor Kinder said he plans to contact concerned business owners.

We have contacted the Cape Girardeau Police regarding calls received regarding the “We Do Recover” community center.

Records show that there have been four drug use service calls since May in an alley next to the center.

According to Ryan Essex, there are currently no plans to move the community center.

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