Market decision finally at hand?

Will the chambers be packed as with last year’s city council meeting to choose a farmers market manager? Or, like a pot of sadly overcooked vegetables, has the issue finally run out of steam?

The Sonoma City Council is due to award the 2011 Tuesday night Farmers Market management contract at its meeting Wednesday night.

The Dec. 15 session begins at 6 p.m. at the Community Meeting Room, 177 First St. W. It will be broadcast live on Sun TV Channel 27, and streamed live at sonomasunfm.com.

Contending for the job are the Valley of the Moon Certified Farmers Market, chaired by Bill Dardon, and Sonoma Certified Farmers’ Market, represented by Irene Morgan.

Both groups will repeat presentations made to the Community Services and Environment Commission last week. Despite being tasked with making a recommendation to the council, the CSEC chose not to pick a favorite.

Commission Chair Liz Lease did not press the panel to decide between the two applicants. “I’m keeping things loose, because the council turned down our recommendation last year,” she said. “It will repeat the same process.”

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

At that meeting, as with the subsequent council hearing, dozens of people rose to speak – or vent – their opinions. Last week, only one citizen made a comment.

The two groups were the only respondents to the city’s request for proposals. Each was well received by the CSEC, 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 lower or eliminate 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.


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