Soup kitchen may relocate to old school Six possible locations for Our Daily Bread

September 04, 1998|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Plans to move Our Daily Bread's soup kitchen from downtown Baltimore are moving closer to fruition as city government and downtown business leaders discuss possible relocation sites, including a former city school across from Green Mount Cemetery.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said yesterday that he will meet this month with a committee of business and civic leaders established to explore moving Our Daily Bread from the corner of Cathedral and Franklin streets near the Basilica of the Assumption. The Downtown Partnership, a group of business owners, has said that a half-dozen sites are being considered.

In May, downtown business leaders approached Catholic Social Services about relocating its operation. Business leaders view the soup kitchen as a key obstacle to downtown redevelopment plans.

Property owners in the area say that crime and panhandling have increased as a result of the 900 or so people who travel daily to the downtown site for lunch across from the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

City leaders are exploring the creation of a homeless resources campus that would provide a one-stop shop of services for the poor -- including health care and job training. That delivery method has been increasingly popular and used in cities such as Miami and Orlando, Fla., and New Orleans.

The committee discussions are heightening speculation and worry by property owners throughout the city about where Our )) Daily Bread may be relocated.

Schmoke said one of the sites the committee is considering is a former elementary school on Greenmount Avenue between Oliver and Federal streets.

For three decades, Octavia Robinson has lived across the street from the dilapidated school, which closed 17 years ago. Robinson would welcome the soup kitchen, she said.

"I just wish they would do something with it," Robinson said.

Jake Aldridge, 59, attended the school 50 years ago and agrees. "Even if it's a soup kitchen, at least you're doing something with it," Aldridge said.

But those involved in the planning process say the committee is far from determining what properties may be considered, although a half-dozen sites have been suggested. Downtown Partnership officials refused to say where the other sites are located.

The 12-member panel, directed by former T. Rowe Price CEO George Collins, will meet again Thursday. The panel will continue weekly meetings until November, when it will issue its recommendations.

"The committee will need time to do its work," said Fran Minakowski, Catholic Social Services spokeswoman. "Anything you're hearing is certainly premature."

Our Daily Bread now feeds seven times the 125 people that it was designed to feed when it opened on 17 W. Franklin St. in 1981.

Pub Date: 9/04/98

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