Make Salvation Army store a success

Published March 18, 2007

Some Wesley Chapel residents surrendered to the inevitable this week. The Salvation Army is within its rights to build a new thrift store on County Road 54 across from the Lexington Oaks subdivision.

The public outcry diminished to just three speakers at a public hearing Thursday before the county's Development Review Committee. Though one woman urged the faith-based organization to take its retailing elsewhere, others made more reasonable requests to guide aesthetics, traffic and operating procedures.

The biggest fear - unfounded, according to Salvation Army officials - is the 23,000-square-foot thrift store could someday be converted into a rehabilitation facility or halfway house for recovering substance abusers.

"There is no way on Earth we would do that," promised Salvation Army Maj. Larry White.

He earlier agreed to put in writing a condition that the center will not store nor market its merchandise outdoors. Lexington Oaks residents also should take heed of White's pledge to "be one of the best neighbors they have."

The retail operation in Wesley Chapel will help finance the charity's other endeavors, including the rehabilitation facilities of which the neighbors are leery.

With that in mind, Lexington Oaks residents should pledge to be neighborly as well by shopping and donating merchandise to the center.

Ensuring the thrift store's financial success is the best way to ensure it remains a desirable retail location.