Plans for a proposed Berea Farmer’s Market pavilion are moving forward, according to Mayor Bruce Fraley. Fraley made the announcement during his comments segment at Tuesday’s Berea City Council meeting, revealing that the proposal for a pavilion was awarded $10,000 by the Madison County Agricultural Development Council.
The proposal is the product of a partnership between the City of Berea, the Berea Farmer’s Market, and the Berea Tourism Commission, Fraley revealed. The next step will be for the plan to go to the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy (GOAP) in November, Fraley told council members.
According to two preliminary estimates, the multi-use pavilion could cost approximately $500,000, however the city is hoping to receive a matching grant from GOAP in the amount of $240,000.
Last week, the Berea Tourism Commission voted to support the concept for a multi-purpose farmer’s market pavilion, pledging up to $300,000 in matching funds. Sketches of the proposed facility were shown at the commission’s regular business meeting on Wednesday.
The pavilion is to be located on Chestnut Street in the empty parking lot next to the Tolle Building. It would be approximately 25,000 square feet in size, and would have 70 parking spaces. In describing the pavilion for commissioners at a prior tourism meeting, Fraley said the venue could also serve as a place for concerts and other community events, and it could be an important economic gateway into the community, he said.
“If there’s something attractive there, it could be a nice gateway to the city and could generate even more economic development,” Fraley said.
Fraley noted he and the city were working with Berea Farmer’s Market to find the organization a permanent home when he became aware of state tobacco settlement funds that could potentially be available through the GOAP should the project gain state approval.
The City is also exploring federal funding, Fraley said.
Tourism commissioners noted helping to fund the facility would be an opportunity to put tourism funds to use on a project that directly benefits local residents.
“This gives the community something tangible that they can use for this tax,” said Charles Arnold, referring to the restaurant tax.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Patrick Huston noted revenue derived from renting out the venue could be used to support other tourism programs.
When it came time for a vote, Ahmad Reynolds, Charles Arnold, Dale Ballinger, Patrick Huston and Rick Thomas voted in favor of the motion to support the project. Linda Ross and Charles Sanders were not at the meeting.
At the prior tourism meeting, Fraley said he was hopeful about the prospects of securing state funds, noting that state officials seem keen on the opportunity to invest in Berea.
He also noted the most exciting aspect of the project would be that it could serve a wide variety of citizens in the community.
“It would be a great asset for our community and it would be a multi-use facility,” Fraley told council members.