If the Cannon Beach Food Pantry doesn’t find a new location before Jan. 31, it will have to close, the pantry’s manager told the City Council Monday night.

But two barriers face the pantry: a lack of money and a lack of space.

It could cost at least $100,000 to outfit a new space, according to some estimates. But before any funds can be spent, property must be found, as well as a building.

The pantry has been housed in the Cannon Beach Bible Church on Hills Lane between U.S. Highway 101 and Spruce Street for five years. However, the pantry’s manager, Molly Edison recently was told that the church’s congregation is growing and it needs the space the pantry uses. The pantry stores thousands of pounds of food in several freezers and refrigerators and on shelves in a 530-square-foot area. It also uses the fellowship hall to distribute the food.

Last week, food boxes were distributed to 28 households containing 113 people, according to a handout Edison distributed. The number of people served continues to grow, even in the summer when employment in hotels and restaurants is at its maximum, she said.

“We’re in a really difficult position,” Edison said. “It’s a big problem. If we don’t get some place to go and money to get there, we will have to close.”

Edison asked the council for funds to purchase a portable building. Although the food pantry board has agreed to contribute up to $27,000 of its $38,662 savings, it will need much more to establish a new site, she said.

The council agreed to discuss the request at its work session Aug. 12.

“The city gives the farmers market a lot of money every year, and they’re only open two months out of the year,” Edison said. “We are working every week, and we are feeding a lot of people and it’s free.”

The city allocates $15,000 a year to the farmers market, which is considered a city program. The food pantry is under the auspices of the Cannon Beach Community Church.

Mayor Mike Morgan has proposed that the city give the pantry permission to place an 800-square-foot portable unit on the parking lot behind City Hall and the police station. While Edison seemed to think the idea would work, the City Council wasn’t so sure. Several councilors expressed concern that the unit would remove parking for the Haystack Rock Awareness truck, the lifeguards and police cars, which use the lot now.

Other properties

Edison said she had looked at other properties, including the remaining portable unit at the former Cannon Beach Elementary School, but none seemed as promising as the City Hall lot. The two-room portable building at the school, which used to house the school library, is too large for the pantry, and, she said, it would be too difficult to split the rooms and move them.

The South County Community Food Bank in Seaside recently moved two other portable units from the school property to use as a permanent site on land Seaside’s food pantry board purchased north of the high school.

“Had we known they (the church’s administration) were going to ask us to vacate before the Seaside pantry moved the portables, we could have used those,” Edison said.

Bill Brehm, who assists Edison at the pantry, said he was told by Cannon Beach Public Works Director Dan Grassick that it could cost “over six figures” to purchase a portable, set it up and supply power to the refrigeration units, water and sewer to the building and provide emergency back-up power.

“It’s a considerable sum of money,” Brehm said.

However, he said, the portable where it stands on the school grounds has access to gas and electricity. But parking around the school could be a problem, he said.

“All of it is doable, but we’re not there yet,” Brehm added.

Alternatives

Councilor Wendy Higgins asked if the pantry could arrange for a bus to take the Cannon Beach customers to the Seaside food pantry, but Edison said they come in at different times on Wednesday afternoons, and many arrive after work.

Councilor Melissa Cadwallader suggested that a portable might be placed in the Community Church parking lot, but Nancy Giasson, a church administrator and a volunteer with the pantry, said the unit would take up too many parking spaces and would put the church in jeopardy of violating city planning regulations.

Although he said that “six figures sounds excessive,” Morgan added that he wanted to pursue a solution for the pantry.

“We certainly need to put some resources toward the problem, whether it’s helping with a lease or working with the school district,” Morgan said. “It’s a critical need, and it’s something that needs to be done.”

Cannon Beach Academy

In other business, Sam Steidel, chairman of the building design committee for the Cannon Beach Academy, asked the council for permission to research the suitability of an area at the city’s RV site for a temporary site to house the Cannon Beach Academy.

Although the City Council has never considered the city-owned site for the academy, nor given its permission for the proposed charter school to use it, a recent application to the Seaside School District submitted by academy board Chairman Phil Simmons indicated the school planned to use the site (see the story on the front page).

The district rejected the application, in part because the property had already been deemed unsuitable for a school 20 years ago by the district due to potential liquefaction in an earthquake. It also may be in a tsunami zone. Simmons has since said he will ask local geology expert Tom Horning to re-examine the property and will include Horning’s comments in the next application to the district.

Several city councilors said they were surprised that the proposal to use the RV park was included in the charter application when they hadn’t been approached. Cadwallader said she was “quite taken aback” and called the proposal “disingenuous because it is city land.”

Steidel said he “totally agreed” with the council’s concern and that the proposal to use the RV site was put in the charter application “without 100 percent of our knowledge.” It was done at the last minute after plans to use a site on the north side of Cannon Beach fell through, he said.

The council agreed to discuss the use of the RV park at its September work session and said Steidel’s committee could research the feasibility of using the site for the school’s temporary location. However, Morgan told Steidel, the charter school committee could proceed “no further or suggest the use of the property without council consideration.”

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