By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor
Delray’s Caring Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides a hot meal to those in need, has outgrown its home.
The topic isn’t new. Residents expressed concerns nearly two years ago when the nonprofit made a request to the city to remodel its bathrooms. The simple ask prompted neighbors to say the kitchen has gotten too big for its location at 196 NW Eighth Ave. where it has been located for about 20 years.
“I have been complaining, not about people being fed,” said resident Deborah Wright, who lives near the Caring Kitchen. “I believe in helping the homeless and the hungry. I am complaining about the location.”
Resident and CRA chairman Reggie Cox agreed.
“The bottom line is that this facility in this location has ran its course,” he said.
Commissioners agreed and decided they wanted to keep the Caring Kitchen in the city, but find it a new location.
“There is universal consensus that this neighborhood has suffered enough,” Mayor Cary Glickstein said, adding it is impressive the residents have been so empathetic and sympathetic for many years.
There has been little movement on any plans to move the soup kitchen since it was first brought up about two years ago. One option was an idea to move the Caring Kitchen to the city’s historic Seaboard Airline Railroad Station, 1525 W. Atlantic Ave.
During a recent workshop meeting, commissioners agreed that the Caring Kitchen can stay in its current location until a new location is decided upon. The lease, which costs the nonprofit $1 a year, recently expired. But commissioners expressed concerns about the move to the depot and would like to look at other options.
The location of the depot, right near Interstate-95, poses challenges to the folks who walk or bicycle to get their meals. Access to the site is limited and dangerous.
“I am very concerned that putting the Caring Kitchen in that train depot is a very dangerous situation,” Commissioner Jim Chard said. “There is no good way to get to it except walking a mile in the broiling sun. There are places that are better situated from the standpoint of the Caring Kitchen, from the standpoint of the city and from the standpoint of safety.”
He said people will likely cross over the railroad tracks and endanger themselves than walk a mile on Lake Ida Road.
The depot was built in 1927 during a time where traveling by train was a main form of transportation. Its popularity began to decline when Interstate 95 was built. The depot was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. It is the first Delray property added to the national registry.
Since, then the city has used the depot for storage and the fire department has used it for training. The structure has been neglected and would need major renovations before Caring Kitchen could even consider moving in.
Commissioner Shirley Johnson suggested the city reach out to the county to see if the Caring Kitchen could relocate to the government complex near the Tri-Rail station. Commissioners charged the task force they created to look at the topic to come back with options besides the depot.
The depot was presented as an option because it is city owned and would be easy for the Caring Kitchen to move into.
“The only location that came back to us was the depot,” Commissioner Mitch Katz said. “It was a quick, easy solution, not necessarily the best solution.”
In addition to looking at what other city owned properties may be available for the Caring Kitchen, he suggested sending out a request for proposal for the depot site with the caveat that whoever purchases it for a project helps find the Caring Kitchen a new home.
Commissioners agreed to look into all three options until a solution is figured out. They apologized to the residents for letting the situation languish for so long.
“I think we would like to have more options,” Glickstein said. “I just don’t like the options that we have.”