WARREN - The Warren Family Mission has found a new home and will spend this year transforming the former Christ Our King Church property into the new and larger mission, which will open in 2014.
Meanwhile, neighborhood residents are complaining that Warren Family Mission, or the city, has not reached out to tell them what will be happening in their neighborhood.
Residents are expressing fear about vagrants, increased crime and other possible problems coming into the area because of the mission.
Pastor Chris Gilger from the Warren Family Mission stands inside the sanctuary of the former Christ Our King Church off Tod Avenue S.W., which the Warren Family Mission purchased recently.
Tribune Chronicle photos / R. Michael Semple
Mission board members spent Tuesday on a walking tour of the building, and a 6th Ward community meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at the church for mission officials to address residents' concerns.
Pastor Chris Gilger, executive director of the mission, said the mission's board approved $150,000 to purchase the property when the church on Tod Avenue S.W. was auctioned. Gilger said the mission has four locations. Plans are to sell the others and then combine all services and programs into one larger building.
A capital campaign will take place this year as work, which includes painting, repairs, remodeling and installing a sprinkler system, is done.
When you go:
A Warren 6th Ward community meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at Community Church of God in Christ, 310 Austin Ave. S.W., Warren. Representatives from the Warren Family Mission will speak about their plans for the former Christ Our King Church located on Tod Avenue S.W., which they recently purchased.
''The board felt having one site would be easier to manage and maintain for all programs instead of four. If we have everything at one site we will be able to do more,'' Gilger said.
Board members believed the new location also would be able to accommodate the increased number of people locally seeking food and other services, he said.
''We have so many people we feed that the main room at the Elm Road location is no longer big enough,'' he said.
That site is used for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and events for the public.
Warren locations include the headquarters, 2671 Youngstown Warren Road, east side location at 361 Elm Road, men's home at 1228 W. Market St. and women with children's home at 491 Porter St.
In addition, there is a Vienna location at 3653 Warren Sharon Road called Hannah's House, which will remain. It recently had three apartments added to provide shelter for women.
He said the board had been approached by a school from New York to purchase the property to be used as a school for $450,000 but decided to keep it for the mission's purposes.
''We had the opportunity to sell but the board felt this building is ideal to meet the needs of the mission and best serve those we help,'' Gilger said.
Gilger said plans are to use the former priest and nun's home next to the building for 30-day emergency apartments for women and children without any addiction problems.
Plans are to use one area for storing furniture and larger appliances and items. Gilger said there also are plans for a greenhouse where the mission can grow its own food. There are also plans for a children's ministry for the city's west side at the mission.
In addition, a gas well is located on the property which will help the mission with expenses.
Officials had expressed interest in the property after Christ Our King closed as part of the Diocese of Youngstown's reconfiguration plan, and that church, along with St. Pius X, merged with St. James Church.
''We were interested in the building but waited until the auction when we could bid on it,'' Gilger said.
Warren Council President Bob Dean said the location is ideal since it is so much bigger and will provide so much more space for what the mission does.
''The mission helps so many people in the community. They are running out of space for all they do. They do what they do because they want to help make a difference,'' Dean said.
He said he has noticed when the mission serves dinners and gives away turkeys or toys it is very crowded.
Several community residents appeared at Wednesday's City Council meeting questioning the purchase of Christ Our King by Warren Family Mission.
Erica Royster, a Ferndale resident and a candidate for council's 6th Ward seat, questioned why area residents were not informed about the purchase of the property.
"We are concerned about what is going to happen to the property," Royster said. "There are so many rumors out there, and we believe our representatives should be able to tell us what is needed to be done."
William Golub, who lives on Blakely Circle, said resident are concerned about the safety of children going to nearby schools and whether area residents will be able to use the wooded area behind the property.
"I was once a homeless veteran, and I do not think it is conducive to place a large number of homeless persons at one place for housing and treatment," Golub said. "I think it is better to have smaller numbers at various locations."
Golub said members of the Southwest Neighborhood Association has repeatedly attempted to contact representatives of the Warren Family Mission to learn more about the project, but has not been successful.
Royster and Golub said the SWNA would be willing to set up a meeting with Warren Family Mission representatives, so neighborhood residents can be informed of what is planned for the property.
Councilwoman Cheryl Saffold, D-6th Ward, said she had been trying to reach Gilger since early January, but was told he was in California at the time of the 6th Ward January meeting. Gilger will speak at the February meeting on Monday at the church.
Saffold said she was given a tour of the church last week.
"The ideas that he presented have merit," Saffold said. "However, there are still safety concerns that our neighborhood residents have.
"For example, will people who are not in their program be loitering in our neighborhoods," she said. "Do we have to worry about people who may want to get into their program, but are not able to get into it."
Saffold said neighborhood residents need to hear directly from the Warren Family Mission.
While sympathetic with residents concerns, Mayor Doug Franklin said the sale and purchase of the former church property does not have anything to do with either the City Council or the administration.
"It was a private transaction," Franklin said. "It does not require any zoning changes that would have required the parties to come to the city.''