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updated: 11/14/2017 10:19 AM

City officials want to help Batavia pantry find a better home

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  • The Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry and Clothes Closet needs more space, and the pantry and city officials have been trying to figure out how to achieve that.

    The Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry and Clothes Closet needs more space, and the pantry and city officials have been trying to figure out how to achieve that.

 
 
Betsy Thelin Zinser's name was misspelled in a previous version.

The city of Batavia has two pieces of property to sell and will be hiring brokers to help it do so.

For now, it is going to hang on to another site, to see if maybe the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry and Clothes Closet would like to build a new home there.

The city council considered the idea at a committee meeting last week.

"The food pantry has done a remarkable job in putting Batavia first and the residents in this town first, and they have certainly done some wondrous things," Mayor Jeff Schielke said.

If the pantry were to build a new building, maybe it could share space with the Batavia ACCESS Toy Drive, he suggested. The toy drive collects toys all year.

The pantry is at 100 Flinn St., in a small building owned by the city. The city pays for the pantry's electricity, and Nicor pays for its natural gas.

Several issues have recently arisen, pantry executive director Betsy Thelin Zinser told aldermen.

The pantry and clothes closet were using four rooms at the former First Baptist Church for an office and storage. The city, which owned the church building, razed it last spring. Off-season clothes are being stored at a downtown business. The pantry does not have a handicapped-accessible restroom, and its roof is leaking.

It lost a large space outside, where it processed donations from food drives, and hosted job fairs and immunization clinics, to the expansion of its neighbor, Batavia's sewage treatment plant.

If the pantry were to expand, the building would have to be code compliant, including installing a fire-suppression system, Zinsser said.

The pantry is visited by up to 50 people and doesn't have enough parking, she said. Batavia Enterprises has been letting clients park in a lot next door.

Meanwhile, the city owns a vacant parcel at 2150 W. Main St., behind the Crash Champions automobile repair shop. The 1.37-acre site was given to the city.

Schielke noted constructing a building on Main Street would not be cheap. "It could not just be a pole building," he said, due to covenants regulating design of buildings in the commercial subdivision.

Aldermen suggested a few ideas, such as the city lending the pantry seed money for a building, or building something that could house other charitable agencies as well. Alderman Alan Wolff suggested perhaps the city could do a swap with Batavia Enterprises, which owns a building next to the current pantry: Put the pantry in that building, use the old building for storage and give Batavia Enterprises the Main Street site.

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