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Proposed Missoula soup kitchen receives criticism from neighbors

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Aug 29 2013 10:46:03 PM MDT
Updated On: Aug 30 2013 09:40:36 AM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Sparks fly as the debate continues on whether a new soup kitchen will be allowed in a busy Missoula neighborhood.

NBC Montana was there Thursday night as a number of business owners and residents showed up at a public meeting to ask questions and voice their concerns to the group pushing to set up the soup kitchen and life change center – Union Gospel Mission of Missoula, formerly called Missoula 3:16.

We spoke to John Trimble, the owner of Palace Imports - located right next door to the proposed soup kitchen site, the old Sweetheart Bakery, and he tells us having this new neighbor would hurt his business.

“I definitely worry about the property value because I'm sure it's going to be dropping, no question,” he says.  “Who would ever want to buy a place when they see the loitering that's going on and the people trying to camp out?”

Trimble tells us he's most concerned about the type of people the kitchen may attract.

“I'm really worried about vandalism, break-ins, littering and loitering,” Trimble says.  “If people can't leave their cars here and feel like they are going to be okay if they drop them off early or the night before then I could be losing business.”

Missoula resident Mark Addison is staying just a half-city block from the proposed location and he tells NBC Montana he welcomes the idea of a soup kitchen and learning center.

“I don't think there's going to be enough room at the new Pov because there are a lot of homeless people in Missoula so I think this is a great idea,” Addison says.  “There’s more parking available and it's going to be accessible for everybody to get to so I'm going to take advantage of it since I'm right down the street.”

Trimble says it's about accountability.

“When we addressed the Union Mission Gospel about what's going to be happening to the neighborhood they just said 'why don't you guys start your own neighborhood watch?'” he tells us.  “It's not up to us because they are bringing the soup kitchen here.”

Overall Trimble says he understands the desire to help others but he says with the Poverello Center moving in down the street, his neighborhood will have enough problems.

We asked him if he sees any positives about the possibility of having this new neighbor and his answer was short.

“None, none whatsoever,” he says.   

Trimble tells me if the soup-kitchen moves in next door he is sure it will impact his profits and customer base.

Nothing is set in stone yet; city officials still need to approve permits for the new location and the discussion on this controversial issue will continue at Monday's evening city council meeting.