No front runner for Market gig

Posted on December 9, 2010 by Sonoma Valley Sun

In a meeting absent the large, emotional crowds that packed the chambers during previous hearings – there was exactly one public comment – two applicants pitched for the Tuesday Farmers Market management contract last night.

They’ll do it all over again next week.

The Community Services and Environment Commission heard presentations from the Valley of the Moon Certified Farmers Market, chaired by Bill Dardon, and Sonoma Certified Farmers’ Market, represented by Irene Morgan.

After hearing the proposals, the CSEC declined to make a recommendation requested by the city council. Instead, the panel will forward its comments to the council as part of another full hearing on Dec. 15

Commission Chair Liz Lease did not press the panel to make a decision. “I’m keeping things loose, because the council turned down our recommendation last year,” she said. “It will repeat the same process next week.”

A year ago, the city council chose not to act on the CSEC recommendation for a group named Fair Bounty.

Both proposals to take over the market in 2011 were well received by the panel, though Commissioner Christopher Petlock questioned the proposed business plans. “Neither of these has the money to get off the ground,” he said. “I don’t see how they’re going to do it.”

Petlock suggested that the city cut its rental fee, currently $175 a week, to subsidize the market until it became self-sufficient.

Several commissioners said they’d like to see the groups join together to combine strengths and ideas.

“The blending of the proposals would be ideal, but that’s not what we’re tasked with,” Lease said.

The matter now moves to the city council, which will hear the issue Wednesday, Dec. 15. in the Community Meeting Room.

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