By David Webb
GUN BARREL CITY–The Gun Barrel City Council approved moving forward with the development of a weekly farmers market at the City Park Pavilion.
March 24, Councilman Marty Goss presented the idea to the council, and he recommended that Councilman Ron Wyrick be appointed as the liaison to the operation. The farmers market would be open every Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon.
Goss said the Economic Development Corp. would be asked to designate $2,500 to the project for signage and other advertising.
The motion passed, 3-2, with Mayor Pro Tem Dennis Baade and Councilwoman Carol Calkins objecting to the plan as presented. They cited a lack of information in their opposition.
Calkins said she supported the concept of a farmers market, but the absence of a business plan concerned her. The councilwoman said the city launching such an operation in the middle of the budget year made poor financial sense, and that she is already concerned about the city’s ability to stay on budget this year.
A previous attempt to open a farmers market at the City Park Pavilion failed because of poor attendance by the public.
“Since we have held the EDC to high standards of packaging a project complete with background check, financial statements, business plans, insurance requirements, etc., should we not also have a similar packet to review for a project proposed by a council member,” Calkins said.
Calkins said the appointment of a council member to run the operation raised questions about the integrity of the plan because the City Charter requires communication with city staff to be channeled by the city manager. “Have you gotten our attorney’s clearance that a council member can serve in this role?”
EDC President David Skains also voiced concerns about the EDC being asked to provide funding for a project without being presented a detailed request with supporting documents. “Who are we supposed to write the check to?” he said.
After the meeting Goss dismissed the concerns of Skains as “sour grapes” because he opposed the EDC’s recent failed plan to open a weekly farmers market at the vacant site of the old City Hall building on Hwy 334. The council voted down the EDC plan recently over the objections of Calkins.
Wyrick said he would present a detailed plan to the EDC now that the council has approved the concept and appointed him as the liaison.
In other action, the council:
• authorized the city manager to apply to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Facilities Direct and Guaranteed Loan Program for funding in the form of a low cost loan to develop new facilities in the city. New facilities under consideration would be a new police department, fire department and a senior citizens recreation center. Baade said the council needs to carefully consider the options in a strategic planning meeting. “We need to take our time in deciding what we need to do,” Baade said. “The city has a lot of needs.” The motion passed, 4-1, with Calkins opposing the motion. She advised postponing the application until after a strategic planning and budget workshop.
• heard an update on the proposed $3 million Country Place Homes assisted living community. Baade said the project is stalled until the developers and the city manager get state officials to re-negotiate the Texas Capital Fund Grant requirements. State officials wanted high-equity performance bonds established by the developer and the city that complicated the process, he said. State officials now appear inclined to drop those demands, the councilman said.
Once the grant is approved, ground could be broken on the project in 30 days, according to city officials.