2013-09-05 / Front Page

Township, city discuss farmer’s market, Parks & Rec

City manager announces Ren Zone approval
BY PAULA SCHMIDT
810-452-2647 • pbarbee@mihomepaper.com

GRAND BLANC – In a rare joint session, officials of Grand Blanc Township and the City of Grand Blanc met last week at the senior center, with a complement of citizens who were interested in the big agenda item of the evening—a permanent home for both Parks and Recreation and the farmer's market.

Currently the two municipal boards contribute, in a 60/40 split, to the $29,000 annual rent for the building used now by Parks and Recreation. Whether that building will be built or an existing building will be modified remains to be seen, but both sides agree it is something they can work together on.

“You can build pretty good for $30,000,” said City Councilman Matthew Telliga.

Township Clerk Cris Rariden questioned why Parks and Recreation and the farmer's market were being connected at all. City Councilman John Freel said it just makes sense for them to share facilities.

“It’s economy of scale…either one at this juncture needs their own standalone facility.” One of the residents participating in the discussion was Mike Yancho, a vendor at the farmer's market and owner of Twin Pines Farm. He stated he wanted officials to not just think of it as a market, but a mini-neighborhood.

“It’s not just a place to buy things, but the sense of community,” he said. “That comes from residents… who don’t meet on the sidewalks (of their neighborhoods)... but from seeing old friends and neighbors together.”

He thinks the farmer's market should be that place. There was also heavy discussion regarding the 60/40 financial split in funding Parks and Recreation and city officials think it should be closer to what is paid for fire services.

Township Supervisor Micki Hoffman said the percentages were determined a long time ago so it might be time to take a look at the numbers again. She also stated that the township gives above and beyond their annual financial contribution to the department, and additionally takes care of electrical, and roads, as well as finding grants for specific items like the splash pad and sledding hill.

Officials agreed that they would put down in numbers what each felt their various contributions were, as well as taking a look at the population to possibly redetermine if the financial percentage was accurate.

Telliga was also vociferous regarding the business potential of the farmer's market, especially in light of the recent controversy over moving the Flint Farmer’s Market. Township Treasurer Earl Guzak said that before a huge project is undertaken for the market, he would like to see some numbers first, of its current and future revenue potential.

The type of building, as well as location and other features will likely continue to be discussed between the two boards. “Everything is open for discussion,” Mayor Susan Soderstrom stated. It is also possible, according to the city attorney, Walter Griffin, that the Parks and Recreation millage funds may be able to be used to help finance the project—if Parks and Recreation oversees the funds.

Township Trustee Scott Bennett stated he would like to see the future building have the flexibility to be multipurpose, implying use by not only the farmer's market and Parks and Recreation, but possibly for other functions as well— especially as at this time, the market is a seasonal activity.

City Manager Paul Brake also announced a bit of good news for the city, which was the approval by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a public-private partnership of the State of Michigan and economic interests, that the General Motors Tool & Weld site had been approved as a Renaissance Zone. This means the property is much more marketable to business in general.

Brake thinks that combined with the efforts of the I-69 International Trade Corridor and Gov. Rick Snyder’s Regional Prosperity Initiative, this puts Grand Blanc in an ideal place for future job growth. “What it boils down to is an excellent opportunity for the corridor to promote investment,” Brake said.

In other discussion, Township Supervisor Micki Hoffman took issue with the City Council’s recent decision to promote a resolution dictating that Parks and Recreation give priority to the local Little League organization when it came to scheduling slots at Creasey Bicentennial Park.

There had been a lot of discussion on both sides but Hoffman felt the council overstepped its bounds by making a policy change without consulting the other partner of Parks and Recreation. The two boards agreed to they would be more communicative in the future and Parks and Recreation Director Kay Eidson assured officials on both sides that she does not anticipate future scheduling issues.

Additionally, Mayor Susan Soderstrom stated the Viaduct project is pending input from CSX Railroad officials and she will keep residents and officials updated as progress is made.

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