Earlier today Love Wins Ministries learned that the future Food Distribution Center adjacent to Moore Square sits on contaminated ground, unbeknownst to any of the center’s stakeholders until today. The issue came to light when a downtown school proposed leasing from the City another building on the same lot. According to the News & Observer, “City officials pointed to a 2013 environmental analysis, which detailed possible ground contamination from a dry cleaner and a gas station that once occupied the block. The report also describes petroleum and chlorinated solvents flowing underground from the Moore Square Magnet Middle School property.”
We see the City Council’s recent decision as two distinct issues. If the Food Distribution Center is to be used by Raleigh’s most vulnerable citizens – men, women, and children who are homeless and food insecure – environmental concerns would be as important to them as they would be to housed and food secure school children. In the same News & Observer article, Mayor Nancy McFarlane is quoted as saying, “I just have a hard time saying yes to putting children in a spot that has environmental contamination from dry-cleaning fluid.” We would hope the City is as concerned about food insecure men, women, and children being exposed to dangerous chemicals as it is about students.
That being said, based on the information we have seen, the contamination levels are in the generally accepted safe zone. We don’t expect any particular problem in moving forward with the Food Distribution Center as planned. We also recognize that this facility is temporary and we appreciate the City making it available until a long-term facility is determined.
While we are eager to work with the City in the Food Distribution Center process, the unfortunate phrasing in the article only serves to demonstrate just how far we have to go as a City in embracing the needs of our most vulnerable citizens.by