Residents want new location considered for soup kitchen

That’s because the nonprofit organization that has operated the kitchen for 16 years from St. Patrick Church needs to put an ITW-Hobart corporate donation to use by year’s end, said Greg Taylor of the volunteer soup kitchen board.

Opposition to the proposal for a 3,768-square foot building that could seat 120 near the southeast corner of Mulberry and East Water streets downtown first was aired at a July city planning commission meeting.

The commission recommended Troy City Council approve rezoning the targeted site from office residential to B-1 business. The council will hold a rezoning public hearing next month.

A community meeting to discuss the proposal on Thursday drew around 30 people, including four council members. Other attendees asked Taylor and kitchen coordinator Don Steineman about plans, and aired concerns.

The soup kitchen now operates from a St. Patrick Church building two blocks from the proposed site. The church site is too small and needed for an expanded church school program.

Several people at Thursday’s meeting said they don’t question the need for the soup kitchen, but question the location. Others said the proposed modern building didn’t fit with downtown neighbors that include the historic Overfield Tavern.

Taylor said five buildings in the downtown area were looked at but the cost to repurpose them was more than building new. The Mulberry Street location was affordable and accessible for patrons, some who walk to the site, he said.

Taylor declined to say how much ITW-Hobart had committed, adding the corporation would be making that announcement

Rosaleen Rayman lives a block from the proposed site. “Please consider the people in that neighborhood. It is their home,” she said. “We are afraid of what is going to come into our neighborhood.”

Don Willis, representing the nonprofit Troy Community Works organization that plans to invest $300,000 in the former Salvation Army home near the proposed site, said the proposal has the board questioning its plans. The proposed neighbor would not be conducive to TCW finding tenants for its revitalized building, he said.

The soup kitchen is “vitally needed … but I just don’t know if this is the right location,” Willis said. He asked Taylor to look at other suggested locations such as the area near the Salvation Army’s current home off South Crawford Street

City Council President Martha Baker emphasized the council would be asked to consider if the property should be rezoned for business-related purposes, not if a soup kitchen was an acceptable land use.

Contact this reporter at nancykburr@aol.com or (937) 339-4371.

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