One common complaint among those directly affected by the troubles emanating out of Denair Park is that the good intentions of a Turlock church is exacerbating the problems.
At Thursday’s community meeting and Tuesday’s Turlock City Council meeting, residents and business owners vented their frustrations about the numerous problems at Denair Park and took issue with the church-sponsored barbecue that hands out free food weekly at the park.
When one individual at Thursday’s meeting spontaneously shouted out a comment that the church needed to “quit feeding them there on Tuesdays” it garnered the loudest round of applause of the night.
The church putting on the Tuesday afternoon barbecue is Home Community Church. The church is fairly new to the Turlock faith scene. They have an office at 528 E. Main St. and meet every Sunday morning at the Carnegie Arts Center.
Each Tuesday the church serves a free meal at Denair Park and while neighboring residents and business owners said they appreciate the church’s efforts, they say it is inadvertently contributing to the problems plaguing the area.
Angela Cotta, who owns Cotta’s Kitchen located on Main Street across from the park, said the feed can draw in more than a hundred individuals, some of whom remain in the park for the day and cause problems for businesses in the area. Cotta said she has to call the Turlock Police Department frequently on Tuesdays for a variety of issues. Most recently it was for public urination and because a couple was fighting in her parking lot.
At Thursday’s meeting, Turlock Parks, Recreation, and Public Facilities Manager Allison Van Guilder said there was nothing in the city ordinance to prohibit group feedings, like the one at Denair Park. City staff said they have contacted Home Community Church to see if they could do their lunches through the Turlock Gospel Mission, but that the church declines.
The church did not return a call for comment.