Williston Food Shelf waits for decision about lease (10/29/09)

Oct. 29, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

With two months left on its lease at Maple Tree Place, the Williston Community Food Shelf is looking at all options in case it needs a new home.


    Observer photo by Marianne Apfelbaum
Karen Sidney-Plummer

Food Shelf President Deb Beckett said she’s had conversations with representatives of Inland U.S. Management, which owns Maple Tree Place. She said the Food Shelf should know by Monday how it will proceed. A lease can be extended for another six months from the end of December, or a new home needs to be found.

“I think we’ll be able to sign another lease for six months, but we’ll know more soon,” Beckett said Tuesday.

Earlier in the morning, Beckett gave a tour of the Food Shelf to Maple Tree Place’s new general manager, Karen Sidney-Plummer. Beckett said Sidney-Plummer was impressed with the operation and discussed the Food Shelf’s future.

Sidney-Plummer started work two weeks ago, replacing former Maple Tree Place property manager Richard Golder. She worked for seven years at the Burlington Town Center on Church Street and helped the mall through its major renovation, she told the Observer.

Sidney-Plummer could not comment on ongoing lease negotiations with the Food Shelf.

The Food Shelf opened on Connor Way in Maple Tree Place last November. Originally, the nonprofit group did not have to pay for rent or utilities. When the six-month lease ended in May, the Food Shelf signed another lease, which runs through December. There is still no charge for rent, but the organization does pay utility costs.

Beckett hopes negotiations with Inland will allow the Food Shelf to establish a permanent location.

“It would be nice to be able to stay settled,” Beckett said.

If not, the Food Shelf’s Board of Directors is looking at other options, including a different space at Maple Tree Place or somewhere at a different site. Whatever happens, Beckett said Inland has been great in its support.

“I think Inland has been absolutely fantastic by allowing us the space for this year,” Beckett said. “It’s very generous for them as a corporation.”

School groups and organizations around town have also been generous with donations. Last month, the Williston Historical Society donated $506 collected during the July 4 Ice Cream Social. Students from Williston Central School donated a large amount of non-perishable items from a recent food drive.

Furthermore, the Observer’s Plant a Row for the Hungry Program, which provided fresh produce to the Williston Food Shelf and other nearby food pantries, recently reached its goal of collecting 1,500 pounds of food.

“It’s going to be getting a lot busier, but so far donations have been picking up, too,” Beckett said.