After delay over neighbors’ concerns, Christ the King Food Pantry headed for rebuild

Mary Jane Bailey shows the present Christ the King food pantry where food is brought out of the basement in a small house on the campus of the Catholic Church on South Main Street in Concord. Bailey started volunteering in the pantry 40 years ago and wants to see the new one built in her lifetime.

Mary Jane Bailey shows the present Christ the King food pantry where food is brought out of the basement in a small house on the campus of the Catholic Church on South Main Street in Concord. Bailey started volunteering in the pantry 40 years ago and wants to see the new one built in her lifetime. GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff, file

By CATHERINE McLAUGHLIN

Monitor staff

Published: 04-18-2024 4:50 PM

Modified: 04-18-2024 6:18 PM


Plans for a new building for Christ the King Parish’s food pantry are moving forward after they were held up due to safety concerns, and a lack of communication with abutters, in February.

The city Planning Board approved revised plans this week, which call for demolishing the current pantry and building the new one on the same site, made possible by a sizable donation.

Construction is now planned to begin this summer.

The proposal was held up after parents from St. John Regional School, which sits on the parish’s property beside the pantry, and property abutters told the Planning Board that project leaders had not proactively reached out to them for input or taken into account their concerns.

The new building would vastly increase the amount of space and accessibility of the pantry, located in the South End. By incorporating a more shopping-like experience and offices for consultations, the pantry volunteers also aimed to create a more dignified experience for their clients. 

But when the plans debuted, parents worried about how new traffic patterns on the lot could risk the safety of students traversing the parking lot and about whether the playground displaced by the expansion would be sufficiently replaced. They expressed support for the pantry’s work but also wanted clarity on how many more people the new pantry could serve. 

After an admonishment from the Planning Board, the Parish held two in-person and one virtual meeting with parents last month.

The new plans reflected parents’ concerns, Father Richard Roberge said Wednesday. They showed a new crosswalk through the property, the addition of a one-way traffic pattern around the new building and a gated-in playground area. They also included changes to lighting plans at the request of an abutter, earning conditional passage from the Planning Board. 

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“We’re delighted to have gotten this approval,” said Roberge. “And thankful for the support of the community.”

Several parents who previously had objected most strongly to the plans and to the Parish’s process for communicating them attended Wednesday’s meeting, but didn’t testify or comment.

Editor’s note: This story has been changed to correct the attribution in the quote from Roberge.