Church, Eagles at odds over parking lot

By Craig Kelly

January 31, 2014

LIMA — It all comes down to a parking lot.

That is the source of contention between Christian Cross Center, located at 797 Robb Ave., and the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 370 across the street. The church’s pastor, Darrell Steed, has been struggling to keep the Eagles patrons off the church parking lot since the church leased the building six months ago. Steed’s issue is the members’ cars use the entire parking lot.

“I had to cancel one meeting two Fridays ago because when I went there, there was literally no place to park,” he said. “They were parked on the grass and the sidewalk. I’ve had to unfortunately cancel any service I might want to have on a Friday or Saturday.”

Steed has complained of having beer cans and broken glass all over the parking lot that he has been forced to clean up. He stated that he has approached patrons to ask them to park somewhere else and has been met with indifference and insults, with some situations even threatening to become violent.

“Because a couple of gentlemen did approach me in a combative way, I had to threaten to call the police,” he said.

Diann Seech, an assistant manager at the Eagles, noted that the management at the lodge is aware of the situation and has tried to help.

“They came over here and asked us to keep people from parking in their parking lot,” she said. “We said we would announce it to our membership and that they should block it off or put a sign up because there’s no way we can go and patrol their parking lot.”

Steed acknowledged that the Eagles management has tried to help, but the announcements have not deterred the patrons.

“We had put signs up saying, ‘Private Parking’ and ‘No Trespassing,’ and we blocked it off and chained it off legally,” he said. “They tore our signs down and took our chains down and drove over them.”

Steed maintained that his issue is not with the management but only with the patrons at the Eagles.

“I’m not accusing the Eagles so much as the patrons that have gone out there,” he said. “I talked with a trustee about it and he was a very nice fellow and we had a good conversation. But it basically boiled down to the fact that all they can basically do is announce it.”

Seech asserted that the Eagles management has been making efforts to be compliant with the church’s wishes, but this matter is simply out of their control.

“We tell people that there is a park down the street and we’ve opened up the field outside of our parking lot and let people pile in there whenever it’s safe to park in there,” she said. “We’re trying to be compliant, but we can’t stop what our membership does.”

Seech also announced that signs would be put on the club doors advising patrons that if their car is parked at the church parking lot, it would be towed at the owner’s expense.

“That’s all we can do,” she said.

Steed, however, noted that many towing companies do not provide that service anymore.

“It’s a case of them trying to avoid combative situations,” he said.

In the end, it is only the benevolence of the patrons that will end this impasse, according to Steed.

“I honestly don’t know what to do,” he said. “I don’t want a beef with the Eagles. I just want them to respect our rights.”