Hard times could be coming to Concrete as Skagit County has decided to sell the building housing the town’s food bank.
Marty Smith has volunteered at the Concrete Food Bank since the beginning, about 30 years ago. He takes his job of helping those in need very seriously.
“Many times I've gotten in the van and taken the food to their house,” he said. “I know that's not a policy of too many food banks up here.”
More than 200 people visit the food bank every month. That's quite a few in the rural, largely low income part of eastern Skagit County.
“There's a lot of people out here without jobs, retired people,” said Smith. “The work up here is very limited, too.”
Skagit County owns the aging building and now plans to sell it. County Commissioner Lisa Janicki said the idea is to put the property in the hands of the private sector and encourage small businesses to open in Concrete.
But the building is in bad shape. The roof leaks and the foundation needs work.
Mayor Jason Miller worries whoever buys it will just use it as a tax shelter and let it become one more vacant storefront on Main Street.
“I can stand right here and point to cardboard on windows and the reason it's there is because the owners are absentee landlords,” Miller said. “They're not responsible property owners.”
County officials say at this point it doesn't make sense to pour taxpayer dollars into the 92-year-old building.
Rents in suitable buildings nearby are two to three times what the food bank can afford.
The building is expected to go up for auction in a few weeks. The starting bid is $2,500. Volunteers are now trying to scrape up the money to buy it themselves, hoping they don't have to close their doors for good.