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City Council tells Farmers Market no to pavilion in Ralph Stout Park

By Jonathan Pleasant
After a fairly optimistic view of the proposal a few weeks ago, the Mountain City Town Council has re-evaluated their stance on allowing the Johnson County Farmers Market to potentially build an open air pavilion in Ralph Stout Park. Market president Robert Back was once again present to hear the council’s opinions and try to convince city leaders of the need for a permanent home for the growing organization. Both Mayor Lawrence Keeble as well as the other aldermen on the board agreed that the market is a big benefit to the city and county, but after reviewing the situation did not feel it would be a good fit in Ralph Stout Park.
The first uneasiness came from Vice-Mayor Bud Crosswhite last month when questions were raised about allowing any form of commercialism in the park, even if it is governed by a non-profit. Other concerns were raised about taking up parking spaces for the rather large building, and the impact it could have on the existing playground area. Mayor Keeble went a step farther this month, looking critically at the proposal and explaining that Mountain City really has no need for the pavilion even if the market agreed to turn it over to their ownership.
While each of the council members cited similar reasons for their disapproval of the proposal, there was also a counter effort to try and open up some ideas for an alternate location. Suggestions ranged from opening discussions with the county for a location near the old Shouns school to a rather unique idea of purchasing the old Ramsey building downtown and having it torn down or modified to suit the market’s needs. While understandably disappointed, Back explained that his main goal is to find the market a home and that he would very much welcome any assistance from the city in securing a different location.
Economic Development Coordinator Karla Prudhomme was also at the meeting, making a formal request to the council for permission to hold this year’s Sunflower Festival downtown on July 19th. Prudhomme  went on to ask for formal support to hold Scarecrows on Main through the month of October. Other requests during the evening came from Jason Campbell, the president of the Johnson County Youth Football League, to hold a roadblock to help raise funds for equipment, as well as a formal request to hold the annual Barlow/Sutton Car show on August 1st from 5-9. The council unanimously approved each request in turn.
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