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City Council searching for home for Farmers Market

The members of the Mountain City Board of Mayor and Aldermen clarified their stance on several ongoing issues last Tuesday, with Alderman Kenny Icenhour kicking things off by clearing the air on the council’s recent controversial decision to deny the placement of a large open air pavilion in Ralph Stout Park to serve as the permanent home of the Johnson County Farmers Market.
As Icenhour explained, there were numerous reasons that the council turned down the market’s proposal, ranging from the impact it could have on parking in the park, to the safety danger the increased traffic could have so near to the play ground equipment. Alderman Bob Morrison pointed that the location could come into conflict with the location of the Goose Creek Trail project and would take out part of the park’s nationally recognized disc golf course. Further, the council has taken the stance in the past that open, public city property is not the place for commercial ventures. With all this in mind, all of the council members reiterated their belief that the market was not a good fit for Ralph Stout Park.
However, as Icenhour emphasized, the town is not against having permanent location for the market or doing their best to help the organization anyway they can. To make that point, Icenhour reflected on the suggestion to try and use the old Ramsey building property down town and requested that the city look into the costs of purchasing the building and demolishing it to make room for the farmers market’s plans. The council agreed unanimously that trying to secure and utilize the property would be a bold statement of support and could be just what the market needs to find a centralized location in town.
While only in the preliminary stages, the entire council including Mayor Lawrence Keeble and Vice Mayor Bud Crosswhite seemed very committed to doing what they could to help the farmers market, even discussing the possibility of a loan or capital outlay note if necessary. Undoubtedly, there will be ongoing discussions with farmers market representatives, and hopefully a plan of action can come together over the next few weeks.
The discussion about the farmers market stemmed from numerous questions and concerns posed to the council by the general public, as did a later update on the bridge closure near Village Apartments. Having closed the bridge a few weeks ago at the direction of the state, Vice Mayor Bud Crosswhite explained that he has received numerous questions about the city’s use of rocks, effect on local businesses, signage, and the possibility of installing guard rails on the currently used bridge owned by Mountain Electric.

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.