Key Peninsula Bischoff Food Bank must vacate its current location at 1916 Key Peninsula Highway NW, having outlasted its welcome on the rental property it has called home since June 2013 based on a verbal agreement with the late Jim Solberg to pay $800 a month in rent.
Solberg died March 28, 2016. His heirs now want a final settlement of the estate.
In a complaint filed by them Nov. 5 in Pierce County Superior Court, they allege the food bank was notified in writing March 3, 2019, that its month-to-month tenancy was terminated and that failure to vacate and surrender the property on or before April 30 would result in judicial proceedings.
“We’ve known it was coming but they won’t negotiate with us,” said Kimberly Miller, vice president of KP Bischoff Food Bank. “We wanted to purchase the property and offered them $97,000 but there was no communication except, ‘No, we won’t accept your offer and we’re not willing to negotiate further.’ We heard nothing after that.”
The tax assessed value of the 3.8-acre parcel in 2020 was $129,100. The food bank kept paying rent, but the checks were returned. Miller said she was under the impression that the court was not hearing any eviction cases due to COVID-19 until after Dec. 31 for residential and nonprofit tenants, until they were served.
After appearing in Superior Court Nov. 20 via Zoom, Miller said she was able to negotiate a nonjudicial compromise with the owners’ counsel and the case was continued to Dec. 4. The agreement includes surrender of the property by Dec. 31 to avoid eviction.
“There is never a good time for us to temporarily terminate service, but right now –– we’re looking at the pandemic, huge job losses, possible food shortages, middle of winter –– it’s a horrible time,” Bischoff board member Gail Torgerson said.
Miller said the food bank is currently in negotiations with a potential partner organization that would allow them to lease an acre or two to build on or bring in a mobile home or construction trailers. “If we were able to do that, I know people will come out of the woodwork to help us. There is no doubt in my mind,” she said.
Ben Paganelli, executive director of the KP Partnership for a Healthy Community, said his organization is trying to help connect and coordinate resources.
“Kimberly and her team have an overwhelming passion that is really phenomenal and goes a long way to get things done against some really tough odds,” he said. “But to the best of my knowledge, a proforma, a budget, a capital project plan is not complete. Unless something like that is prepared it’s hard to get money from public sources.”
Paganelli said it’s not easy to move an operation like that on a budget that focuses primarily on feeding people and not having overhead. “But, Kimberly has a way of getting things done. She keeps feeding people.”
“Very shortly we’re not going to be here,” board member Shane Hansen said. “We’re really not sure where we can be. We’ve got some options we’re looking at, but all of those options require money.”
“We are not going anywhere,” Miller said. “Yes, we have to move. We’re working diligently toward a partnership and hoping to have more information at the food bank and on our Facebook page in mid-December.”
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