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Neighborhood upset over possible new Lord's Diner

The Lord's Diner says there's a need, but northeast Wichita residents say they do not want a Lord's Diner to crop up in their neighborhood.
/ Source: KSNW-TV

The Lord's Diner says there's a need, but northeast Wichita residents say they do not want a Lord's Diner to crop up in their neighborhood.

The Lord's Diner has been serving hundreds of meals each day to hungry people in Wichita from its downtown location. Now it wants to expand to 21st and Grove, saying there's a need it wants to fill. But a group of Neighborhood Association leaders say the Lord's Diner isn't welcome.

The Catholic Diocese wants to turn the old Boys and Girls Club into a new Lord's Diner, but neighbors in the area are fighting to stop that. They worry it will bring dozens of impoverished people there, scaring away business and driving up crime.

Several leaders gathered in front of the old Boys and Girls Club to say they'd rather see the building stay abandoned than turned into a facility to feed the needy.

"Those people are fighting, they're stabbing, they're breaking into and vandalizing some of the businesses down there," said Treatha Brown-Foster with the Central NE Neighborhood Associations. "We don't want to see them walking up and down the street when we're trying to revitalize the area."

Along with increasing crime, neighbors against bringing the Lord's Diner to NE Wichita worry it will increase traffic, drive away prospective business and put seniors and children at risk. They say they've worked hard to try to remove the stigma of 21st St. being a hot spot for crime and gangs and they worry the stigma will come back if dozens of impoverished people start loitering in the area.

Pointing to all the churches in the area as well as the Union Rescue Mission, they say they are already saturated with places where the poor can get help.

"They are very well taken care of," Foster said. "You don't see anyone walking up and down the street, looking for a handout here on 21st St. I never have and I live right off 21st St."

The Lord's Diner released a statement saying, "Our mission is to feed the hungry. Working with members of the northeast community, we've spend considerable time exploring possible locations in the area. We welcome the opportunity to continue to dialogue with the city and others as we seek to carry out our mission."

Neighborhood group leaders say they'll talk to the Lord's Diner about other possible locations. But they made it clear there's really no place in the area where they would like to see the facility expand.

See story video at KSN.com