By Owen Woods | email@example.com
ALAMOSA County Commissioners Wednesday unanimously supported an application for Department of Local Affairs Community Development Block Grant funding to help La Puente purchase Atencio’s Market and relocate its community food bank to the southside of the city.
The commissioners made their decision following a public hearing that drew opposition and support for La Puente’s purchase of Atencio’s and its relocation of its food bank. Alamosa County will be serving as the fiscal agent for the Community Development Block Grant following the support from county commissioners Michael Yohn, Lori Laske and Vern Heersink.
La Puente Executive Director Lance Cheslock on The Valley Pod
Residents opposed to the purchase and relocation of the food bank cited parking concerns and how clients of the community food bank would impact State Avenue and Eighth and Ninth streets in Alamosa.
Noting that La Puente and its services to homeless and transient populations has become “too much of a good thing,” resident Leland Romero said La Puente’s purchase of Atencio’s creates a “dilemma for folks who recognize the duty to help the needy but there comes a point where it conflicts with the compromises and the lives of the people around the area of the southside.”
La Puente Director Lance Cheslock said the motivation for the non-profit has been to find a location to relocate the food bank from its current location on Sixth Street so it could offer better accessibility to the food bank’s services and it would be better able to manage parking needs of its clients.
Cheslock said Atencio’s offers the perfect solution for the food bank’s mission. He said La Puente has an April 15, 2023 deadline to close its purchase of Atencio’s.
Having Alamosa County serve as the fiscal sponsor of the funding application accelerates the timeline on when La Puente can close the contract with Junior Atencio, remodel the store to city code requirements, and open the food bank at its new location at Eighth and State Avenue. In a written statement, he said with the award of grant money, all of that could now happen by October 2023.
A petition sent to the county opposing the grant application was read by County Attorney Jason Kelly which he said contained 80 signatures.
An email to the county said that bringing in a food bank into the neighborhood would cause it not to be gentrified, but “ghettoized” instead.
The commissioners also noted that the building would be closed regardless of their decision since Junior Atencio, owner of the store, was closing the market for good.