Commission to consider farmer’s market design deal

Gary B. Gray • Feb 20, 2013 at 9:26 PM

The City Commission tonight will consider a $35,000 contract with Johnson City’s Thomas Weems Architect to design the proposed downtown farmer’s market.

The market will be located just across Wilson Avenue, a few steps north of the new Founder’s Park.

Preliminary drawings show Wilson transformed into a bicycle and pedestrian path. A drive-thru is planned for the market’s south side as well as canopy-covered parking for 60. The city plans to add 25 spaces for overflow and an additional 50 spaces will be constructed on Commerce Street.

The new farmer’s market and its amenities is getting a lift from about $1 million in tax increment financing, which has been earmarked by the Washington County Economic Development Council.

“The architect will do the design and then put a bid package together,” said Phil Pindzola, Public Works Department director. “That will help us know when we can get moving. Then there will be some consideration about site work and so forth, but we should be in a position to accept a bid in three to four months.”

Pindzola said city officials are looking at where to put the restrooms. And since there’s a lot of stone work at Founder’s Park, they also will be using the same style of stone on the column supports at the farmer’s market.

“We want to make it flow through to integrate both the park and the market,” he said. “We’ll probably put pavers down on Wilson, which will be closed to vehicle traffic.”

The new market is expected to be finished sometime this fall.

Commissioners also will discuss parking in the downtown area near Northeast State Community College.

Attorney Arthur M. Fowler, who has an office on East Market Street, wrote a letter to each of the five city commissioners late last month asking that they bring the matter up tonight. Fowler states in the letter that the public was assured by the Johnson City Development Authority that covered parking at the site would remain available during renovations, but that did not happen.

Public use of the garage attached to the Downtown Centre had been allowed since NSCC leased the structure from the Johnson City Development Authority in late 2011 to establish a teaching site there. NSCC signed a five-year contract to lease the building.

Renovations have not begun, and they will not until a contractor has been selected, which should be within a few months. Once the renovations are complete, a section of the garage will be designated for daily public use and for use on the weekends and during special events.

NSCC President Janice Gilliam told the Johnson City Press last week that access to the garage is currently blocked and that the college has received some complaints regarding the temporary closure of the parking garage.

The original opening date was fall of last year.

Commissioners also will consider a new lease agreement with Washington County for the Princeton Arts Center. The original lease “appears” to have expired in 1981, according to County Mayor Dan Eldridge. The county considers the city a tenant and is asking that it assess the building’s roof and other maintenance needs.

Eldridge also is asking that the city make its long-term interest in the building known.

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