Deal will give Gray Gourmet a reprieve

Meals program gets two years to find new home

More than a month after saying they preferred to find a tenant who would pay market rent, Mesa County commissioners on Monday signed off on a deal that will allow the nonprofit Gray Gourmet program to stay put until 2019.

The commission signed off on a lease of the county-owned building at 551 Chipeta Ave., to St. Mary’s Medical Center, which has sponsored the meals-on-wheels program since 1989.

The lease, which expires Aug. 31, 2019, calls for St. Mary’s to pay $77,000 over the course of the agreement.

County officials facing tight budgets sought to charge market rate for the building, which was constructed specifically for the program, then turned over to the county to own and manage. Gray Gourmet has paid the county $20 a month for the building and the county spent $52,000 on improvements in 2016. Its previous lease expired in June.

“In my opinion, everybody came out a winner here,” said Commissioner Scott McInnis, who said he expected that Gray Gourmet would likely find new quarters before the new lease is up.

St. Mary’s officials will look for other options for the program, “but now we have some room to breathe,” hospital President Brian Davidson said, “but we are relieved to have time to evaluate those options without being evicted from our home.”

Mesa County’s actions in seeking a renter that would pay market rate for the building was “principally wrong,” Davidson said, “but we will continue to do what is right for Mesa County seniors.”

Several individuals and organizations have contacted the Gray Gourmet program in recent months to offer alternatives “that would put our financial investment into the program in a better place than the county coffers,” Davidson said.

The county this spring made it known they were looking for an organization that could take over the Gray Gourmet building and pay a market rate for it.

A nonprofit organization was said to be interested, but it was unable to obtain a federal grant that would allow it to rent the building, which has an industrial kitchen.

The county remains in discussions with the organization, McInnis said.

Gray Gourmet, with more than 250 volunteers and a paid kitchen staff, delivers 450 meals daily, as well as frozen offerings for the weekend, to shut-ins and residents who are unable to leave their houses.

In all, the organization delivered more than 120,000 meals in its 2016-17 fiscal year.


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