CRESTVIEW — The Salvation Army will fill one gap in the city’s soup kitchen calendar that area churches otherwise cover. The Crestview City Council unanimously approved the organization’s plan to bring a mobile canteen to town to serve weekly Sunday dinners to the homeless.
For several years, local churches have operated a rotating soup kitchen schedule, offering hot lunches and — when cold weather shelters open — evening dinners, six days a week. After Salvation Army Lt. Chris Welch addressed the council at its Oct. 22 meeting, the seventh day was included in the schedule.
The organization and the local Sharing and Caring food bank provide the weekly service out of a “mobile feeding unit,” or canteen, Welch said. All the Salvation Army needed was a place to park the vehicle when it serves Sunday dinner.
A new downtown parking lot under construction on Wilson Street would be a prime location when the lot is ready in about 60 days, City Clerk Betsy Roy said. However, in the interim, the City Hall parking lot adjacent to the railway tracks is not a viable alternative, she said.
“Right now, as we know, our parking lot is not our parking lot,” Roy said. “It’s owned by CSX.”
Councilwoman Robyn Helt suggested using Old Spanish Trail Park’s canteen park until the new downtown lot is ready, but Roy said the park is heavily booked with activities that might disrupt having a consistent location for the canteen.
Public Works Assistant Director Carlos Jones asked whether the parking area in front of the Twin Hills Park children’s playground would work. Helt suggested asking CSX railroad if it’d allow the canteen to use the City Hall south lot until the new parking lot is ready.
“We want a location that’s accessible to the homeless,” Councilman Charles Baugh Jr. said. “They may not have transportation to get to the parks.”
Then city planner Eric Davis had a brainstorm.
“Why not right in front of City Hall?” he said. “We own everything on the front of Wilson Street and on Sunday, City Hall’s closed so there won’t be anyone using the lot.”
Council members favored the suggestion, and after ascertaining that the Salvation Army could readily add the city of Crestview to its liability insurance, city leaders unanimously voted to allow the canteen to park in front of City Hall to serve on Sundays.
In other matters, the council:
• Unanimously approved the city’s annual $11,000 contribution to the county Economic Development Council. EDC Vice President Kay Rasmussen said the council is working to help the city’s industrial base diversify “so your community is not military-dependent.”
• Viewed a presentation on the Tri-County Small Area Study by Celeste Werner of Matrix Design Group. The study resulted in recommendations for local community zoning changes, comprehensive plan revisions and the Eglin Air Force Base Joint Land Use Study to protect the base’s missions from encroachment.
“The focus is to really make sure all of your citizens are protected for health, safety and welfare,” Werner said.
Findings call for training route restrictions, approaches and departures of different Eglin reservation airfields, and “noise contours.”
City planner Eric Davis, Crestview’s representative for the study’s advisory group, said members await the report’s final drafts before zoning revisions can begin at the community level.
• Received a report from outgoing Sister City organization President Jim Mills on planned events for the visit of 36 guests of Crestview’s sister city, Noirmoutier, France. The public may meet visitors and local hosts at a 5-6:30 p.m. reception Nov. 5 at the Crestview Public Library, Mills said.
• Set a workshop for 5 p.m. Dec. 10 to revisit a city budget item that could reimburse council members for travel to League of Cities meetings. City leaders allocated no money for their travel when they adopted the budget.