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City considers helping food pantry find new home

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By Kristin Beck

Carrollton city council is considering a proposal from the Carroll County Food Pantry to construct a new building on a city-owned property on Sixth Street.

Bill Welty, vice president and chair of the site search committee, approached council about the availability of the vacant lot and parking lot in the 100 block of Sixth Street across from the Carroll County Senior Center and The News-Democrat office. The food pantry is currently housed in the basement of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, but the group is looking to move it to a more ideal spot where its services can be more readily available, Welty said.

The city has owned the property since the 1960s, and the new building will not impose on the new well being installed by Carrollton Utilities, he said.

While he did not have any drawings with him, Welty said the group’s vision is to have a reception area, a small office and a bathroom and make the rest storage. He estimated the building would be about 28 feet by 48 feet.

The Carroll County Food Pantry is a 501c(3) organization, has received some donations from the community and hopes to apply for grants. Volunteers will staff it, Welty said.

Mayor Gene McMurry asked if there would be a loading dock built on to the building. Welty said if they build it in that location, no. The group just needs enough space so a truck can be backed in and unloaded through a garage door, he said.

McMurry said the property is of no use to the city and would like to donate it to the food pantry.

Councilwoman Ann Deatherage said this was the first time council had seen the request for the property and would like to think about it before making a decision. However, she said she was definitely not against the food pantry. Welty said he wanted to present the information to council and get its opinion, noting there are very few vacant lots available in the city.

Councilman Dwight Louden asked if the group wanted the parking lot deeded to them as well. He did not see why that would be necessary and thought it should remain public parking.

Councilman Mike Gordon said he wanted Welty to understand that if the city decided to donate the property and the food pantry were to no longer exist, the building would become city property once again.

Welty said the group would like to have the food pantry open by the first of the year. He would like an answer from council as soon as possible so that if the answer is no the group can move forward on other properties.

McMurry asked Welty to meet with Code Enforcement Officer John Welch and put together a drawing of the building and what exactly they want to do and present it to the next council meeting Aug. 25.