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Fishline coming up short in search for a new home
POULSBO — North Kitsap Fishline has outgrown its building on 3rd Avenue.
A two-year search for a new building and site has so far been unsuccessful.
Fishline administrators would like a building between 5,000 and 7,000 square feet, according to Executive Director Mary Nader. If it comes down to it, Nader said Fishline will find land and build its own facility.
“We want commercial property, which is typically really expensive,” Nader said. “We know what type of building we would be suited for, but may end up having to buy property and build [on it].”
Fishline can spend up to $1 million on a new building and site, funded by a capital campaign and grants, Nader said.
Fishline’s current building is just over 3,000 square feet. The organization moved into the building in the mid-1990s, when Fishline was helping about 15-25 households each day and distributing about 200,000 pounds of food per year.
Fishline now helps about 100-125 households each day. The organization passed out about 1.3 million pounds of food in 2012.
It’s a lot of food to pass through a building of that size, Nader said — food donors have been turned away because there is not enough room to store donations.
Nader said she’s amazed that Fishline has operated as long as it has on 3rd Avenue, having doubled its number of clients in five years.
Nader compares the current building to a downtown Manhattan apartment.
“We use every space — pull something out, put it back in,” Nader said. “We can’t create more space.”
Parking, too, is insufficient, Nader said. Fishline clients and donors sometimes cannot find parking and must wait, circle the block, or go home.
Along with more square footage, Nader said she would like a building located in a central location, but not on a main street, in order to protect client identity. She would also like a parking lot for 25-30 cars and a location near a bus stop.
Besides having room for food, Nader wants more space for seminars and classes. She also wants to provide computer access to clients.
Though the 3rd Avenue building is structurally sound — drainage issues were dealt with in 2012 after flooding in November — it’s a “choppy layout” and difficult to organize. Hundreds of hours are spent rearranging and rotating food stock because of limited refrigeration. And because of limited freezer space, holiday items, such as turkeys and hams, are gathered at the last minute for holiday meals.
There was an approximate 10 percent increase in clients using Fishline’s food services in 2012 over the previous year.
Food service slows down in February, but utility and other services are still used heavily, Nader said. Clients receiving notifications of their electricity being disconnected, for example, can receive financial help. An average of five to 10 households come in each week for help.
Negotiations for the former Poulsbo RV site on Viking Avenue and vacant business space on 7th Avenue didn’t pan out, but Fishline board members continue to work with local realtors to find a new home.