Kingston has been jammed with commentary, confusion and chaos ever since a local daily newspaper erroneously announced in its headline that Queen’s Galley soup kitchen offered a plan for the redevelopment of the King’s Inn site. The paper went on to report that architects were drawing up plans for a new Queen’s Galley at the King’s Inn. However, according to Queen’s Galley Executive Director Diane Reeder, it’s premature to say those plans are definitively targeted for the Broadway motel, which is scheduled to be razed Nov. 5. In any event, Reeder said this week, no plans have been offered to the city, which took the site for taxes several years ago.
Reeder, armed with offers of free architectural services from Rick Alfandre of Alfandre and free contracting services from Hearthstone Contracting of Orange County, which recently did the construction work on the local project taken on by the TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” is looking for a new site for the soup kitchen, which offers three meals a day to anyone seeking them.
The soup kitchen, located on Washington Avenue in the same facility with the Washington Manor boarding house, which Reeder also directs, is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization funded by donations and grants. Reeder said she is currently laser-focused on moving the soup kitchen, but not the boarding house, to an alternate location. The Stockade Group, comprised of four partners, owns the Washington Manor complex. “The ‘Stockade Foundation’ [not to be confused with the Stockade Group] is the organization that rents the property from the landlord and assists with securing safe, sober and secure housing for people at risk of being homeless,” explained Reeder. “That entity is funded by the income of the building, whether it be from [social services], self-pay or barter in the case of an individual who is unable to pay anything. Again, the Queens Galley is moving … not the residents who live at Washington Manor,” said Reeder.
This summer, the Kingston Fire Department issued 17 code violation citations to Washington Manor’s landlords in August for its dilapidated conditions, including a leaking roof, and threatened to close it down unless addressed immediately. Landlords did not respond to the violations directly, nor have they completed the work; however, they have made enough repairs to satisfy the fire department. Next to the conditions, Reeder’s second biggest gripe is an annual $6,000 heating season cost due to inadequate insulation. She initially threatened to pull the plug on all operations right after Thanksgiving. However, she told the Kingston Times this week that she will be able to keep the doors open through the winter thanks to an anonymous donation of $50,000 worth of heating oil.
Mayor James Sotille did not return calls for comment, and though it was rumored he was planning to announce a possible agreement between Reeder and his office regarding the King’s Inn site at Sunday’s Italian festival where Reeder was fundraising live on WGHQ-FM, he was a no-show. Reeder said she generated less than $5,000 worth of donations in that drive.
It is Reeder’s envisioned goal to implement a restaurant-industry training program within the new soup kitchen to teach foundational job and life skills such as food preparation, food handling and sanitation, hosting and serving. A restaurant will also ideally co-occupy the building with the soup kitchen with separate entrances. The concept also includes a visible, hydroponic greenhouse to grow the organic produce to be served in both the restaurant and soup kitchen. The soup kitchen needs to be within walking or bus distance, she insists.
Slideshow photo – Diane Reeder. (Photo by Andy Uzzle)