Village trustees approve HCS move

The HCS Family Services food pantry will move to a new home after Hinsdale trustees Tuesday approved the agency’s plan to take over the old Hinsdale Humane Society facility.

The village board voted unanimously in favor of HCS’s relocation from the Memorial Building to the village-owned 22 N. Elm St. under a 10-year, rent-free lease. The one-story, 5,550-square-foot building has sat empty since the Hinsdale Humane Society vacated five years ago. The site was identified a couple of years ago as a solution to space needs for HCS, which currently has to spread out across three floors to serve pantry patrons.

The new location will continue to offer curbside service, with patrons first parking in the Hinsdale Seventh-day Adventist Church lot at 201 N. Oak St.. They will then be dispatched in groups of four to drive west on Walnut Street to Elm and park in one of the seven new parking spaces on the west side of Elm to load the groceries.

Before the vote, Village President Tom Cauley addressed traffic worries that nearby residents had raised when the matter was taken up for a first read at last month’s board meeting. He found that under current twice-weekly pantry operations at the Memorial Building, an average of 65 cars show up for the Monday pantry and 68 cars for the Friday pantry.

“Those are roughly the same numbers that are projected for the new location of the food pantry,” Cauley said, suggesting that traffic likely was more intense when the humane society was there and the church was running its own mobile food pantry. “I think that this food pantry is not going to contribute to the traffic.”

In response to residents’ concerns with the proposed hours of 3 to 4:30 p.m. for Monday’s pantry coinciding with the 3:05 p.m. dismissal of The Lane School nearby, Stifflear said the start time was moved to 3:45 p.m.

“There will be a 40-minute gap from the time that The Lane School lets out until the curbside pickup starts,” Stifflear said.

The one issue on which trustees are divided is establishing a four-way stop at the intersection of Walnut and Elm for safety. Currently only cars on Elm have to stop.

Trustee Matt Posthuma said a wall on the northwest corner forces pedestrians to cross on the more dangerous side of the street.

“They’re going to have to cross Elm right where people are going to be turning to get into the food pantry,” he said.

Police Chief Brian King said the department would monitor the crossing the first several months the pantry is open to determine if more regulation is needed.

HCS plans to spend about $420,000 upgrading the facility. Wendy Michalski, the organization’s executive director, said the move is expected in the late spring.

“It’s a larger dedicated space for us to support our pantry’s guests and volunteer, and we’re just super excited about that,” Michalski said.

The building also will have offices for patrons to meet with specialists like a nutritionist or counselor.

“We’re better able to serve our neighbors and meet their needs,” she said.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean