The Boyne City Main Street Program has been awarded a $12,500 planning grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to determine whether the Veterans Park pavilion could be upgraded to host a winter farm market.
The Boyne City Farmers Market was one of 10 farmers markets from around the state to receive a share of $200,000 in planning grants.
“This project will conduct a multi-day community charrette (intense planning session), and develop architectural designs and cost estimates to expand and retrofit Boyne City’s Veterans Park pavilion into a multi-activity structure, including use as a permanent winter farmers market location,” said Boyne City Farmers Market Manager Rebecca Harris.
Two years ago, a winter market was added in a temporary location adjacent to the Boyne District Library, filling the available space with up to 24 vendors. Based on that success, the farmers market committee sponsored a one-evening visioning event in September 2012 to explore ideas for developing a permanent winter market facility.”
Harris added, “The enthusiastic participants identified key criteria including proximity to downtown, opportunities for food-related demonstration and a dining area, flexibility for other uses, and possible connections to the city hall complex.”
The grant will require a proportional funding match.
Boyne City Main Street Program Manager Hugh Conklin said, at main street’s June 6 meeting, that there was at least $7,000 in the farmers market reserve fund. The rest of the matching funds are expected to come from the main street program.
According to main street, the project is expected to be completed by May 31, 2014.
“The Veterans Park pavilion subsequently emerged as an ideal location for cost-effective expansion of the existing structure to meet nearly all of the highest priority criteria identified by community stakeholders,” said Harris. “This structure is highly-used, located in a key shoreline park adjacent to the summer farmers market and many recreational and civic facilities, and very close to our historic downtown.”
She added, “The park is also the site of Boyne City’s many community events and festivals. By expanding and redesigning to possibly include garage door-like walls that could be lowered in cold weather, a heating system, demonstration kitchen, stage and storage area, the pavilion could become a focal point for extending the park to year-round use, and expand flexibility for a broader array of uses, including the winter farmer’s market, to draw residents and visitors to the area.”
The decision to apply for the grant garnered nearly unanimous support from the Boyne City Commission when it was approached on the matter by Boyne City Manager Michael Cain back on June 25.
“We all know about the farmers market here in the community; it has been a great success,” Cain said. “We are very fortunate to have year-round operations because of the library’s acquisition of the red building next to the parking lot by the library.”
Cain said the building in question will not always be available and it is not as well-suited as some alternatives that have been discussed.
“(We’re) looking to see what type of alternatives we can come up with for the community to have a year-round farmers market but also to create some additional use of some of our facilities,” he said. “And, the discussion came, with regards to looking through this grant, the possibility of modifying the existing pavilion in Veterans Park and make it a year-round facility.”
Cain said the pavilion is used heavily in the summer months and, though it has side drapes to help stave inclement weather, it is unusable during much of the rest of the year.
“Through this planning grant we would like to explore the opportunity to see can we, much like Cafe Sante has done … convert three-or-four-month-a-year space to 12-month-a-year space?” he said…. “The idea of this grant is to look and see if any of this stuff is viable. Does it make sense to do some modifications to the pavilion so it could be use to hold the farmers market in the off-summer months and then to make it available to use if you wanted to put an ice-skating rink out there or various other functions in the park, or just to have for people to use in the off-seasons.”
Boyne City Commissioner Derek Gaylord said he would like to see more information on the matter to ensure the citizenry has the opportunity to decide whether they want such changes to the pavilion.
“They may be all for it … I don’t know at this point,” he said…. “The bottom line question that follows that is: once the plans are in place, who’s going to pay for this upgrade? Is it back to the citizens of Boyne City? And obviously a project of that design is not going to be cheap.”
Boyne City Mayor Ron Grunch said the project is worth at least looking at.
“The people at the farmers market have worked hard to put this funding together to have the funds to do something like this,” he said. “The cost basis, at this point, is incumbent on them as to meeting the cost of the grant.”
He added, “Not having a plan is going blindly into the future.”
Boyne City Commissioner Laura Sansom said the grant moneys will be used to hire a consultant, hold public informational hearings and design the project.
“I don’t have any problem with having it evaluated and having public input on it and seeing what other ideas are out there,” she said.
Boyne City Commissioner Tom Neidhamer said he supported the grant application.
According to the MEDC, the one-time grants—ranging between $10,000 and $50,000—were awarded to farmers markets that have operated for at least four years.
“Michigan’s community farmers markets have helped re-energize the enthusiasm for connecting with our agricultural roots. As a matter of fact, Michigan ranks fourth in the nation for the number of farmers markets,” said Jamie Clover Adams, Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Our farmers markets are a great place to sample the diversity of our agriculture and get a taste of Pure Michigan.”
The MEDC—which is primarily funded through state and federal tax dollars—offered these grants as a part of its duties as the main state-run economic development and marketing agency for certain Michigan-based businesses.
“What this grant will allow us to do is fully explore this opportunity of taking a highly-used and popular facility and transforming it into a multipurpose community resource and winter home for the Boyne City Farmers Market,” Harris said. “It will encompass amenities that do not exist at our existing winter location.”