WATSONVILLE — Plans by the Watsonville Salvation Army to revamp its downtown location moved forward Wednesday when the organization met to discuss a recent needs assessment.

During the six-month assessment survey, the organization talked to more than 100 city leaders, service providers, residents and others to get a sense of what the community wants from the new facility.

According to the survey by Jackson, Miss.-based Arthur Alley Associated, respondents chose shelter as the number-one service provided by Salvation Army.

That was followed by offering a “one-stop shop” for homeless people to get food, a meal, clothing and other services.

Respondents ranked as third the organization’s classes that teach life skills and independence to homeless people, followed by mental health services and financial services as fourth and fifth, respectively.

Arthur Alley co-owner Derek Alley recommended that the Salvation Army focus on its ability to provide one-stop services, and work with other service providers in South County how those services relate to others.

He also said the organization should increase its visibility in the community, which he said would help it recruit volunteers.

The board said Wednesday that the Salvation Army is still “years” from starting the project, which would involve razing two buildings in the downtown area and replacing them with a three-story building.

The project is estimated to cost between $2 and $3 million, depending on how it is used.

The Salvation Army has pledged $600,000 for the project, and hopes to pledge another $400,000.

The rest will require community support, Salvation Army board member Harry Wiggins said.

The organization has served Watsonville for 125 years. It serves meals every day, gives out weekly food packages and offers shelter to homeless women, children and men. It provides summer camp for young people and church services on Sunday.

The organization will now begin a feasibility study of the project.

“What’s happening here is kind of magical, because we’re starting a conversation,” Alley said. “And if we’re going to see change, conversation is exactly what we need.”

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