Council gives go-ahead for farmers market property purchase

Submitted

This artist rendering shows what the city envisions the new farmers market would look like

The Somerset Council has taken the first steps toward installing a farmers market building by passing a resolution that gives Mayor Alan Keck the authorization to negotiate for the purchase of the land on which to put it.

In the resolution, read aloud at Monday's council meeting by City Attorney John Adams, establishes that the property is located in the 400 block of East Mount Vernon Street. It is better know to residents as part of the parking lot next to the former Food Fair building.

The resolution notes that the owners have orally agreed to sell the property for $75,000. The owners are listed on the Pulaski County PVA website as the trust for James E. Haney Jr. and Charlotte Haney.

The city of Somerset already owns around two-thirds of the parking area. This purchase would give the city control of the entire lot on the east side of College Street.

Mayor Keck plans to build a farmers market facility that would have an open-air component and a way to enclose the building so it can be used for indoor events.

Keck said he is pursuing grants that can be put toward the building's construction, and informed council that he hoped to have good news regarding a grant very soon.

"This farmers market, if executed, which we certainly believe it will be, will be a tremendous benefit to the entire region and the farmers, most of which will be actually be in the county, but will be coming downtown to sell at this market," Keck said.

Somerset's council also approved a plan that would take out the traffic lights at the intersection of South Central and Cotter avenues and turn that into a permanent four-way stop.

The plan was proposed by several council members due to the traffic lights being struck by lightning and damaged - almost exactly one year after a similar storm damaged the lights in the exact same way.

Councilor Jim Mitchell pointed out that fixing the light after each strike costs the city between $15,000 and $20,000. Mayor Keck agreed that changing to stop signs would "save us about $12,000."

"I'm all for it," Keck said of the change. "One less thing we've got to maintain."

The council also approved an amendment to the pay and classification plan that would change the categorization of six EMS positions from non-hazardous to hazardous.

That change would allow those six people to receive hazardous duty benefits under the Kentucky Retirement System.