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Food pantry to stay put

BUCKEYE LAKE – Monday night it appeared as if Buckeye Lake Village may lose the LEADS food pantry on West 1st Street, but by Tuesday the situation was resolved. The food pantry will remain where it is for at least the next five years.

Initially LEADS proposed a 10-year lease at $1 per year in exchange for connecting the building to the village’s water distribution system. LEADS would continue to maintain the building.

Village officials asked LEADS Director Ken Kempton if LEADS would consider paying $500 per month for the building if the village would install the water line.

Kempton told Buckeye Lake Mayor Clay Carroll that after consulting with his colleagues, that arrangement was unacceptable and LEADS would look for an alternative location for the food pantry as quickly as possible.

Council member Peggy Wells said moving the food pantry was “a nasty way to respond” to a reasonable request. She added that she had spoken directly with Kempton about the village’s dire financial situation, explaining that layoffs were possible among other cuts. “He seemed very sympathetic to our financial situation and was willing to work with us,” Wells added.

But, Tuesday Carroll met with Kempton and agreed upon terms that will keep the food pantry on West 1st Street.

“The Buckeye Lake Food Pantry will sign a five-year lease for $1 per year to rent the facility from the Village of Buckeye Lake,” said Kempton. He said LEADS would be responsible for the repair and maintenance of the building during the term of the lease and for the installation of the water line.

“We thank Mayor Carroll and Village Council for their willingness to continue to work with LEADS to find a way that enables the food pantry to remain in Buckeye Lake at the present location,” said Kempton. “Their efforts are greatly appreciated!”

Monday night Council Clerk Valerie Hans said if the village began charging significant rent for the food pantry building, it would be required to pay property taxes on it. Currently, the building is tax exempt because it is not earning the village a profit.

Several residents balked at the idea of doing anything that would jeopardize the food pantry in any way.

“It’s absolutely imperative that we have the LEADS program for our citizens,” said resident Kitty Zwissler. “You need to do everything in your power to keep them here. This could be a horrible public relations event.”

Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Marianne Perine said the community must have the food pantry, particularly for children’s sake.

“Personally, I can’t see why this was even brought up,” said resident Ethel Braden. “It’s our privilege to have (the food pantry) here.”

Village officials were clear that they valued the food pantry as well.

“We have so many people relying on (the food pantry),” said Carroll.

“This community needs it,” said council member Barry Herron.

“I’d hate to lose the food pantry. A lot of people would be hungry,” said council member Mickey McCormick. She said losing the pantry would reflect poorly on the village, which desperately needs the LEADS food pantry’s services, as well as the food pantry at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church.

In other village news:

• Carroll said patching would begin this week on Hunts Landing Road, which is in major disrepair. The patching is a bit of a “band-aid” fix, because a longterm repair would cost roughly $238,000, which is currently not in the village’s budget. Carroll said the village would try to secure some grant money toward a longterm repair.

The repair work on Hunts Landing Road will be similar to repairs made to Cranberry Lane.

“Cranberry Lane residents appreciate the work that was done to the road,” said Wells. However, the new repairs are already beginning to crumble.

“It’s a temporary patch. You can only do so much,” said Hans.

Water Supervisor Toby Miller explained that the weather isn’t warm enough yet to make longterm repairs to any village street.

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