The Wichita Ministerial League on Tuesday voiced opposition to a proposed satellite site for the Lord's Diner, citing concerns that it would hamper safety and 21st Street revitalization efforts.
The Lord's Diner feeds the hungry — or anyone who comes for a dinner, with a "no questions asked" policy — at a downtown facility on North Broadway. It has proposed a satellite site at a vacant building at 21st and Grove.
The president of the Ministerial League, which represents about 25 predominantly African-American churches, read a statement Tuesday night saying that while the group strongly supports the overall mission of the Lord's Diner to serve the needy, it feels that the 21st and Grove site has two problems:
* A concern among surrounding residents and a neighborhood association that the proposed location would increase crime and hamper safety. It is a busy traffic corridor and is across from a liquor store, league members said.
* The belief that the proposed site "would be in conflict with the greater 'business development' goals for the '21st Street Revitalization Project.' "
In the statement, the league said it is asking the Wichita City Council to delay a vote, which the group expects could occur next Tuesday, for at least 90 days so other locations can be considered and more public meetings can be held on the issue.
The group also invited the public to attend a meeting on the issue at 7 p.m. this Thursday at North Heights Christian Church, 3030 N. Hillside.
Pastor Reuben Eckels, the Ministerial League president, read the statement at his church, New Day Christian Church, near Edgemoor and Central. Several other league members stood by as he read the statement.
During questioning by reporters, Eckels said the league wants to work in partnership with the Lord's Diner to explore other possibilities, including the option of having the Lord's Diner bring meals to churches that already provide meals to those in need.
Asked for comment on the league's statement, Lord's Diner executive director Wendy Glick said, "I would concur... we want to work in partnership. Dialogue is occurring and will continue to occur between now and next Tuesday when we come before the council."
The council has scheduled a public hearing next Tuesday to be held some time during its meeting, which begins at 9 a.m.
The Lord's Diner has said it proposed a satellite site because there is a particular need in the city's central-northeast area. That area has high concentrations of low-income residents and children who receive free or reduced-price school lunches.
The proposed site is a building that used to house the Boys & Girls Club.