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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of December 20, 2011 -- Addendum on Union Square's largest Awning yet - $285,000

A presentation will be made by Pete Zagaroli on a proposed permanent structure for the Farmers Market on Union Square. He will provide detail at the meeting on the design, engineering, and cost of the project that will replace the temporary white tents used each year for the Farmers Market. This structure will provide an architectural feature to Union Square that will enhance the attractiveness of downtown. Incorporated into the design are a low platform/stage and a seating area that will replace the existing portable stage. The proposal will be distributed at the meeting.

Andrea Surratt and Pete Zagaroli made the presentations to City Council. Andrea stated that tonight she wanted to be part of a presentation from Pete Zagaroli. A concept for a multi-purpose facility that will house the farmer's market. She went into the components of Union Square and the relocation of the Farmer's market snd talked about the re-energized market.

The farmer's market board approached the city about making the current location a permanent location. They have put together a team to think about another location and possibly improve upon the location. There is a lot of congestion around the parking area. The city called upon Pete Zagaroli who she stated, "has had wonderful ideas about redevelopment, understands Hickory very well, and is an excellent designer." She next showed a GIS layout of Union Square. She explained that this would move the market from the East side of the Square to a more westerly location of the Square.

Pete Zagaroli came to the podium and thanked the city for the opportunity to get involved. He talked about how this was a scenario where the city came to him, instead of him "coming here with some hairbrained idea." The thought in putting this together is creating congregation space. It is meant to be multi-use. We have a traditional downtown with a few contemporary storefronts. This is fabric architecture. It is a flowing structure. It is a little progressive and contemporary. (The Hound: There was a picture provided, but I have a technical glitch with my camera. And the drawing was basically a 2-D drawing that gave no detail about what this structure will look like.)

Alderman Lail asked about the Northern limit of the structure towards the storefronts. Mr. Zagaroli stated that it is the grass area. The stage will be in the area of the old stage and they will potentially use reclaimed lumber to build the stage. It is literally just a deck. He stated that the stage will be a Nautilus look in nature with large sails on top of it. He emphasized this being more of a work of art concept than a building. He talked about Union Square being underutilized and how Asheville just spent $8 million doing the same program downtown.

Alderman Meisner asked about acoustics to which Mr. Zagaroli stated that he hadn't done studies on acoustics, but it would be no different than before. Alderman Guess asked about the durability of the fabric to which Mr. Zagaroli stated that it has about a 10-year range. Alderman Guess asked if it was a canvas. Mr. Zagaroli stated that it is a PVC product and it is white. This is a stretched material and it needs to be very versatile.

You need protection from the sun, yet you need light. With festivals it needs to be neutral (color). Alderman Guess asked about weather durability? Mr. Zagaroli stated that this is a permanent structure. It is engineered to withstand all current wind loads we have here. the footers are 3 feet by 3 feet and 6 feet into the ground. It is smooth taut surface.

Alderman Seaver asked about seating area to which Mr. Zagaroli stated that it would be no higher than the brick there already and no more than a step up. Alder Patton asked about seating in the back. Mr. Zagaroli stated that it will be a bench that run along the back just to definition and give people a place to sit. It allows chairs to be sat up in front of it and for areas to dance. Alderman Seaver asked about the elevation of the stage area. Mr. Zagaroli stated that it would be raised two steps or about 16 inches. He states that this is more than enough for what they are doing there. He stated that this will be very progressive for Hickory.

Mr. Zagaroli stated that this is a new look and needed desperately. For the cost of what this is, it is an incredible value. It serves an immediate need for the farmer's market, Oktoberfest and future craft fairs. Alderman Seaver asked about the sale of the drawing relating to height. Mr. Zagaroli stated that it was to height and at the lowest point it will be 10 feet and at the highest it will be 14 feet. There will be a lot of room under there and it will not feel like a tent.

Alderman Guess stated his desire that Hickory's Logo be a part of the structure. Mr. Zagaroli talked about the desire to not create anything to permanent. He said the area can be enclosed with curtains. That Logos can be put behind the stage. He personally believes that logos should not be part of the structure. Accessory items can be used for branded images. Alderman Lail alluded to the openness of the structure being nice for the visibility of the signs on the buildings. Alder Fox stated that their is an openness right now and there are days when there aren't 5 people on Union Square. She talked about the positive of the farmer's market.

Mr. Zagaroli stated that he is asked the question over and over again how we get people downtown and he answers why? What is it that is going to bring people downtown other than our shops. We have to provide a space, an environment that encourages the congregation of people. This is functional, artistic, and sophisticated. Alder Patton added that it is a real win because the farmer's market and people eating and buying locally. Alder Fox talked about the fact that since we have decided not to put the streets back in place that we have a 1970's Urban Renewal Plaza. Other communities have reverted back the other way. They have come up with a plan to create a memorable space. Communities all over are looking at their cores. She went to Statesville today and she spoke about
the work they are doing on their streetscape.

Alderman Seaver asked if the pricetag includes the additional accessory items and Mr. Zagaroli sated that it would not, but those items can be produced and bought locally and this would be a nominal expense. The company they are working with is out of New Zealand.

Ms. Surratt came back to the podium stating that the timeframne is critical. It will take 14 weeks to finish this project, which will be done by the end of March. They want to be done in time for the Farmer's market can be open in mid April. There are major things that need to happen such as the right brick, buying the poles and setting them correctly. She stated that the cost will be $285,000 with $163,000 for steel, sails, engineering, design, and installation. The rest of the money is for site work, creating a change area,installing wood for the stage and seating area. She continued to advocate for the costs and art effect of this structure on the area. It does require a budget amendment. The Mayor asked if this would limit the ability of the market to expand. Ms. Surratt stated that there would be the ability to still add 5 more booths, 8 to 10 maximum. Alderman Seaver asked if this added more space for parking. She said it does and it doesn't take spaces away that people are vying for on the east and west sides and it doesn't impeded traffic. The Mayor had a public conversation with City manager berry about public initiatives. Manager Berry stated that this is low hanging fruit. The farmer's market has been successful and in relation to some of the other initiatives the price tag is relatively small.

The council went ahead and voted on this issue giving it a 7-0 unanimous consent. Citizen Larry Pope stated that he thought this was a public hearing. The Mayor and other council members stated that no it was not. Mr. Pope questioned how the city could vote on this issue without a public hearing and citizen's being allowed to voice whether they are in favor or against it. You are going to move and do what you want to do without input from the community? The Mayor stated that they were absolutely permitted do that and that is what they have just done.

Mr. Pope stated that he wants the record to show that there is a conflict of interest with Sally Fox and Jill Patton as part of the Downtown Development Association Board (Mrs. Patton is actually on the farmer's Market Board), members of that group and also have businesses on that square. The Mayor stated that Mr. Pope was out of order. Mr. Pope responded that he didn't care. "You do what you want to do and I will do what I want to do, which is be heard." The Mayor stated that they are going to ask for people to be heard at the end of the meeting like they always do. Mr. Pope responded, "yeah but then it will be too late." The Mayor once again admonished Mr. Pope that he was out of order. The Mayor stated that they had already made the decision and voted for it. Mr. Pope stated that he would see them in court, because this is not right and he will get an injunction through the courts.

The Hound says that this is just the same ole, same ole... I'm not saying that this is a bad project, if it is supported by the private interests on Union Square, but to think that Hickory Tax revenues should be allotted once again towards the enhancement of Union Square's private economic marketing interests without any mechanisms for payback or accountability is getting more than old. The same ole story the same ole song and dance, my friends.

And Larry is totally in the right. I certainly wish this city wasn't filled to the brim with the feckless cowards that will complain, but won't stand up for what is right and just. How could the City Council vote on this without a Public Notification? Was this not supposed to be a Departmental Report? I have never seen this happen in the 3 1/2 years I have been attending these meetings or read or heard about any such processes ever taking place. Yeah, they would have done what they were going to do, but at least they could follow the standards and practices of the law. They continue to make the rules up on the fly.

Then we once again see the blatant conflicts of interest. Alders Fox and Patton sitting on boards that directly benefit from this project. I don't argue that a farmer's market is a good thing, but no one has explained why it has to be a centerpiece of Union Square economic activity. They talk about cities investing in their core. Union Square is not the core of Downtown. It is just one piece of it. They want to pigeon hole it into being that, but there is nothing that says that it absolutely positively must be. Go to any city in North Carolina and you see communities that don't center their economic activity on what amounts to a two block area, except little one stop light towns.

Then I am befuddled by my logic, because I can't believe the audacity of our local governance and the lack of respect they have for the people of Hickory. They think we are plain out stupid. They go on these little junkets to Burlington, Asheville, and Chattanooga to "study" their downtowns and how we can enhance ours and low and behold they get back and talk to Zagaroli who just happens to have architectural plans drawn up on this very issue... Shazzam, what a coincidence... Well, GOLLLEEE!!! Ain't that amazing.

We see it once again. They have had this planned out for months. I have to admit that their aspiration towards full-fledged fascism is awe inspiring. They pick the winners and losers around here. I have nothing against Zagaroli. He has nothing to do with this conversation. He's probably suffering due to the Real Estate Depression. I understand that local developers, brokers, and constructors are having to hustle to make a buck, but I don't see this making a big difference on Union Square when the same ole people are making the same ole decisions. Alder's Fox, Patton, and Guess are still going to want to tell us who can and can't use the facilities the tax payers are paying for. The parking funds that are supposed to be used to build a parking deck are once again being redirected towards another use. And this is going to limit the growth potential of the farmer's market. We hear about how the Federal government is helping the Too Big Too Fails privatize profits and socialize losses. That is the same thing going on in Hickory.

Too many decisions are being made in closed session and through a telephone call chain of command. You don't have to have a quorum to figure out which way the wind is blowing. Unofficial votes are being tallied behind closed doors and on those phone calls. Staff, under the direction of Mr. Berry, is leading the Council in directions the staff wants to take them. The problem is staff are unelected and not accountable to the public interest. In a good system, the staff would stay out of the political process. They would remain independent, neutral, and objective. I think what we have seen is that some staff are having a tough time not getting personally involved in some of these issues.

Why weren't multiple designer/developers brought into this process? Why wasn't contract bidding brought into this process? Are we sure that this is the best design and are we sure we are getting the best price. This is what I am talking about when I talk about Competition versus Qualified Competition. They are picking winners and losers folks. "You can compete as long as it isn't against me or my friend."

Isn't it ironic that we can't come up with $400,000 (city government estimated cost) that can be amortized over multiple years to build a pool, but we can come up with $285,000 Johnny on the spot to put up these structures and Zagaroli states that the fabric has a lifespan of 10 years. One issue for the poor and one issue for the connected, which one wins? Who wants to bet that a decent pool could have been built for less, but this structure and the ancillary expenses are going to cost much, much more.

No one looks at the big picture. You can hear the compartmentalizers now:

"Why is Larry so upset. They were going to pass this anyway. He's such a trouble maker. They needed to get it done. I don't know why he thinks they should wait two more weeks and then they get behind schedule." -- Even though there was no notice and the public wasn't given a voice. This is a big budget issue. The only voice the public has is the convoluted election structure that takes place every two years and no one respects that. Thus no one respects the general public.

"It is alright if Sally and Jill push this because they are my friends and they have done a lot for people." -- It doesn't matter that the groups associated with downtown are running their interests through a pipeline that most of us don't have access to. These people don't understand what we outsiders are fussing about, because they are in the clique. Just the High School mentality 30 to 40 years later. What we see would be considered conflicts of interest and insider trading in a real business environment. In Hickory, it's Standard Operating Procedure. Wonder why we are having a tough time attracting new business?


Anonymous said...

I think the criticism of Council's actions are exactly right. The process is more of the same, forget the public's interest just continue to pour money into downtown. The conflicts of interest continue and this site is just too cramped and suffers from the lack of parking the downtown tenants always complain about.
A farmers market, along with crafts, baked goods, etc, is definitely a viable idea and could be a large regional draw if done right and at the right location. More space and parking is needed. Also, for potential customers, the downtown location is not the most desirable from a traffic standpoint.

May I state again, that when the survey was done Springs Road was the choice of the public. Downtown was chosen because the City always cow tows to downtown and as noted we have conflicts of interest. Pushing downtown promotion at the expense of creating a large, vibrant, regional market is detrimental to the public and another disgusting example of the cronyism and incompetence of City gubmint.

Anonymous said...

I don't see why the City is even involved in this to begin with. Mr. Zagaroli is a private businessman. The Farmer's Market has its own, independent governing board. And there are plenty of privately owned, vacant, marketable sites around the City - and even around downtown currently. If this is such a wonderful idea, why can't the property owners, land developers, and Market board come together and make this happen without the long (overbearing) arm of the City being involved? Isn't there an entire economy theory based on that - oh yeh, FREE ENTERPRISE. Bottom line is this - City taxpayers should not be subsidizing Zagaroli Construction simply because his business is down in this economy.

James Thomas Shell said...

To those who may have read the Hickory Daily Record report on this meeting where it says, "The project requires a budget amendment before it can continue. "A budget amendment will be prepared and presented to City Council for consideration at the Jan. 3 meeting."

Let me remind you that I have audio of this meeting, in which the Mayor made a motion and the Council unanimously consented to move forward with this project.

Are they now deciding that they have gotten ahead of themselves and decided to backtrack through the Hickory Daily Record?

I will bet you that they have already placed orders in the pipeline for the materials, which will magically arrive as soon as this vote is cast on January 3, 2011. I don't know if this company from New Zealand warehouses product here in the U.S., but it will be hilarious to see tons of product show up like an overnight from FedEx.

Maybe you might think these are petty observations on my part, but if you ever wonder why government is out of control, the just step back from the fumes and realize that if they are allowed to do whatever they want, then they may just decide to set their sites on you and your interests.

It has been said that I am looking at this as though it is sinister and that the people on Council are just ordinary folks like the rest of us. I will grant that they are very ordinary, but they are also very ordinary people who have let a little bit of power go to their heads and they have lost touch with the average people in this community.

I don't think sinister, when I think about this. I think greed, avarice, and hubris. Running up to the front of the line to fill your plate and then laughing and mocking others who are left with crumbs.

There has always been a club mentality in Hickory. These club members foster an air of superiority and entitlement. Most of us who point this out don't want anything from this community other than a fair shake and a level playing field. That is what leads to creativity and free flowing ideas. Guess we're out of luck, cause I don't see this changing anytime soon.

Silence DoGood said...

To answer the last question first, no, they haven't gotten ahead of themselves. They are proposing spending money that wasn't appropriated in the budget ordinance that was passed and took affect on July 1st. Since the budget is an ordinance, it must be amended to draft money in, then appropriated out to the line it will be spent from in order to lawfully disperse those funds.

Frankly, I'm shocked that people know what they do about Hickory and cling to the notion that an outsider can get a fair break and even shake. And let me be plain. If you're not one of 'club' members, you are an outsider, it doesn't matter if you were born here, raised here, and your family goes all the way back to Hickory being a watering hole wide spot in the road.

And of course, anyone that says anything about it is a hater, or jealous, or begrudging of those and thier success. Which is a crock. All anyone wants is a fair and impartial chance. But all those in power are interested in are you spending your money here so they can grab some of it. If you are after something else, "please press 2 or continue to hold...."

James Thomas Shell said...

I am going to try to get this recording posted ASAP. That isn't what happened. They voted to appropriate the funds last night. That was the vote. They voted to amend the budget ordinance last night. There should have been a public hearing on this issue last night before any vote was taken. That is my opinion.

Silence DoGood said...

As much as it pains me to say it, I think they can. I'm not saying its right. According to NCGS § 159-15, shown here in pertinent part. Amendments to the budget ordinance.
"Except as otherwise restricted by law, the governing board may amend the budget ordinance at any time after the ordinance's adoption in any manner, so long as the ordinance, as amended, continues to satisfy the requirements of G.S. 159-8 and 159-13. However, except as otherwise provided in this section, no amendment may increase or reduce a property tax levy or in any manner alter a property taxpayer's liability, unless the board is ordered to do so by a court of competent jurisdiction, or by a State agency having the power to compel the levy of taxes by the board."

Insofar as required public hearings, those are not really set in stone, except for a few exceptions. Budget review and prior to adoption, requires a public hearing. Annexation issues require a public hearing. Zoning changes require a public hearing. After that, it's pretty much left to council. I'm not rendering opinions, just repeating what the statutes say. And if the entire council was so certain of what they were doing when quizzed, you can bet the legalities had already been addressed prior to the meeting, which goes back to what you said originally. This was a done deal prior to the formalities of it being penciled, papered, and stamped.

Silence DoGood said...

I think you're not wrong. Any time you're spending that much green of the people's money and it doesn't involve life safety or critical infrastructure (some would also term those 2 emergencies), then the public should have a chance to kick that issue around in a public forum, i.e.; public hearing. But I guess that takes us down to, what, $9,715,000.00 in the Mayor's venture Capital fund? As Jed Clampett would call it, his, "walking around money."

harryhipps said...

the core of this expenditure is that they do nothing to really improve most of the city except for downtown because of the conflicts of interests discussed. And with the apathy around here there is probably not going to be any political repercussions to deal with. They could probably put a statue of Spanky and Our Gang on City Hall steps and not much would be said.
As long as Larry Pope is the only vocal opponent and the public and local media don't question council actions there is only one real impediment to what they do: the tax rate. As long as the sacrosanct tax rate doesn't go up the sheeple don't care.
Disgusting "leadership" but we will now have an upscale tent downtown.

Anonymous said...

just to be sure we're on the same page, correct me if I'm wrong, BUT...

farmers' market = small businesses, owned/run/supported by both males and females of various backgrounds (I've personally witnessed blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians...)


Ridgeview pool = recreation for an EXTREMELY LIMITED portion of the city's population (who don't think it's "fair" that they should get subsidized access and transportation (neither of which are available to me, my child, or anyone in my neighborhood) to the YMCA

so...please explain why supporting the GHDFM is a bad thing, but we should be tripping over ourselves to build a couple dozen kids a pool that they'll barely use?

IF you reject the notion that the GHDFM was put downtown so that citizens in certain areas could walk there (unlike how it would be if the market were on Springs Road, as was proposed/researched/ultimately rejected by the board AND the city - which you're not on - did you even attempt to be on it, or make any effort to be involved in their decision-making process (SO easy to whine and bitch after the fact, from the safety of your home when you're in your PJ's, rather than actively getting involved, huh?), then why do those same areas receive greater funding from the City for SIDEWALKS, for the very reason that...wait for it...wait for it...a disproportionate percent of the residents DON'T HAVE CARS? Let me guess; you want to keep THAT funding? But WAIT...if they actually had cars, their kids wouldn't need the City to BUS them to the Y, now would they? Golly, I am SO confused here now!!!

Here's a FANTASTIC idea. Don't just go to meetings to take notes on stuff that you can later complain about till you're blue in the face. INSTEAD, get off your duff and join committees, boards, etc, so that you can actually "BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD" (Ghandi)? In other words, Mr. Hound, put your money where your mouth is. Maybe even, gee, I don't know, MOVE TO HICKORY so you could be a citizen of the very City that you can't seem to shut the hell up about.

Anonymous said...

for someone who's all about being a VOICE OF THE PEOPLE, you are mighty quick to yank down posts that even slightly disagree with your myopic little viewpoints. how about actually leaving up posts that might conflict with your position?

Anonymous said...

a touch mysoginistic, are we?
as a working-class female who supported not only a child but also a husband who didn't work for years, I'm pretty disgusted with your comments. And what do your comments suggest about the bona-fide MEN who own shops downtown (eg, the Outdoor Supply Co)? Are they just tinkering in silly little hobbies while their wives are out bringing home the bacon?

James Thomas Shell said...

I haven't pulled a single comment off of this thread, so what are you talking about?... Let's see if I can answer the ones directed towards myself.

"a touch mysoginistic, are we?" I don't have anything against any business on Union Square. What I am talking about is the millions of dollars that have been poured into the place with no end in sight. $50,000 per year handed over to pay the directors salary. Free use of city owned property for office space and to rent out. Free security through the Hickory City Police force. Having the Farmer's market anchored for Union Square's benefit and having the seed money for that subsidized by the city, which I don't think is a bad thing except for the anchoring part.

As far as the woman that I speak of, they are a select few who have the ear of the Council through Alders Fox and Patton. I've been to council and witnessed it over time. I was there at the beginning of the year when the farmer's market was moved across the tracks. I was there for this and I have been there every time they have come asking for subsidies such as the graffiti removal.

My aunt owned 1859 Cafe and I can get into specifics related to the marketplace surrounding that, but she didn't receive a subsidy for that and none were provided until a couple years ago when a community appearance subsidy was granted to help replace a fence. That came after I started doing this and it was pointed out to her. But if one looks at the big picture what used to be a viable area for commerce on the southside of the tracks has now gone completely to pot. That building is the second oldest structure in this city and nobody cares about that because we ain't in the club.

As far as your husband, I am sorry to hear that and I completely understand those struggles and that is what this blog focuses on for the most part. Getting this areas leadership to focus on the entire city and creating a body of economic wellness for the whole city. That doesn't come from picking winners and losers and helping one part of the city at the expense of another.

Nobody is cleaning snow out for small businessmen in NE, NW, SE, or SW Hickory at no expense. The police aren't acting as security guards every small business in this community. The small businesses don't have free access to a wireless network. Look and see where most of the grants have gone.

All we are saying is that Union Square needs to empower its own agency, the HDDA, and that entity needs to be paid for by the members of the HDDA and there are mechanisms to do that which have been successful in other cities, such as a BID tax. That is a solution. It is a solution that most aren't going to like, because they receive benefits now without it. But, Union Square would be much healthier in the long run if this chord were cut.

And that is my opinion. And believe it or not, the opinion of a lot more people in this community than it is not the opinion of.

James Thomas Shell said...

Now, as far as the Ridgeview pool and the one in West Hickory that most seem to conveniently try to forget so that they can simplify this into a racial issue, instead of the socio-economic issue that it is.

Those pools weren't kept in good repair over time. They were abandoned by the City. Those pools were utilized for well over 50 years. They were built by the powers that be in this community for the working class folks. The city didn't maintain records or maintenance on the facilities. If they had been properly maintained they would not have ended up in the shape they were in.

The people of Ridgeview even made attempts to take over the pool in Ridgeview and run it through non-profits in Ridgeview and the city would not go along with it. This would have taken it out of the city's hands and meant that the pool could have been renovated without going through the redtape the city wanted it to go through. In my opinion, the city didn't want to do this because it was going to be shown that it wouldn't cost anywhere near the $400,000+ that they stated it would have. There again we see a City that didn't look to really study the issue or get multiple bids. They went to one firm in Charlotte and asked how much it would cost and that was a little less than $800,000 for two pools, including all of the fedreally mandated stuff, and the numbers given through a freedom of information request weren't even itemized.

Now, I know this is hard for some to understand -- especially the kool-aid sippers, but no one suggested that the city get into the pool business with a new pool. What they suggested was seed money through a public-private partnership and yes they have asked that the pool be built in one of the areas of the city that needs it. This pool could become an economic driver and help reinvigorate a part of the city that needs rehab. No one said it has to be in Ridgeview.

As far as the YMCA pool. People from Ridgeview and West Hickory did utilize the bus rides, but it was for 10 kids and they could use the facility a couple of hours while there. They had a lot more access before and now they are getting an allotment.

As far as being a member of the YMCA it is expensive. I know they have scholarships. So another limiter. Another allotment.

Does any of this seem open and progressive to you????

Most people don't want to run a gauntlet to participate in things and be made to feel like someone is bequeathing some sort of privilege upon them. They want to make their own way and do their own thing. That is independence. The forefathers of this community understood that. Take care of your citizens and they will take care of you.

harryhipps said...

What is the purpose of the farmer's market? Obviously, one of the main, if not the primary purpose is to provide a venue for the local farmer to sell their goods to the local population (although some is just some of the bought and resold stuff you can get at the grocery store).
Beyond this, however, there are some more aspects to consider.

Was the market located downtown so the residents of the downtown area can walk to a food vendor? I don't think so. Many, probably most customers of the market drive from their homes to shop. If the idea here is to provide a "substitute grocery store" it's not doing the job. A partial year, 2 day a week, farmers market that doesn't sell the full range of grocery store items is not going to supply the communities needs or was really designed for that purpose.

A national trend is that people want to know their local food producers who don't have to transport their products thousands of miles to market (hence an environmental benefit). And there can be some more diversity in the varieties of things offered since you don't have to use cultivars for durability instead of nutrition or taste and pick them too early so they can ripen en route.

Besides this, the interest of the community is to have a vibrant market that can be a venue for farmers but also bakers, craftspeople and others. It could be a significant attraction and an economic development asset. The downtown location is just too small to expand into what I believe its market potential is.

Finally, as far as getting on boards and commissions is concerned. On some things this might be ok, but many times, especially where downtown is concerned, the boards are irrelevant. Council is going to do whatever they want to . If the committees give them cover they will use it. If not, they will ignore it and do what they want. The truth is THEY DON'T REALLY WANT YOUR INPUT UNLESS IT'S TO CHEER THEM ON.

Anonymous said...

Gosh Harry-the FM surveys the vendors every year and they help form the hours/days of operation. They only operate 2 days so they can FARM the rest of the time. There is also a process for being a vendor and they are chosen so there is not too much overlap in produce/product so there is more interest in the FM as a whole. Too many selling the same will cheapen the market. There is also the aspect of what is considered "local" and the number of farmers to choose from for the market. Same with crafts and too you should understand the farming season for what is offered. Please, speak to someone who knows a little about the subject before you spout off. Of course, that is typical on this blog. Pontificate about every and all subjects ( yep- you have all the answers) and when no one calls you on the carpet then you are the expert on it all.

James Thomas Shell said...

We don't mind people calling us on the carpet. We have never said we have all of the answers. Harry and I both attend different forums where brainstorming takes place and not everyone agrees with us and we both evolve... On the other hand.

We just don't want our community to be self limited by autocrats. We aren't the ones taking issues personally. You participate in the public arena and it comes with the territory. I don't care if people participate on here anonymously, I understand why many don't, but note that Harry and I do not.

James Thomas Shell said...

Most people are limited by their own mindset and understanding, because of what has been stated earlier, mostly self limiting. I am a chef. How many people in this forum have been to foodshows? At foodshows, they don't limit the offerings to just food. It creates oppportunities to teach restauranteurs about products. I am sure that many of you have been to the fair and the Carnival atmosphere creates an opportunity for a marketplace, because of the atmosphere and the captive audience.

I understand that is what they are attempting to do on Union Square, but they think they have to force people to stand on top of their businesses to get people to utilize them. There is limited space to have this market. I have been. It is cramped. They want the patrons to ignore the fact that it is cramped. They want to say that they are limiting offerings, because they want to keep prices up to help the farmers earn more.

Well in economics there is a supply and demand dynamic. That dynamic also relies upon the capacity of the marketplace. If we limit the capacity, then we suppress both supply and demand. price demand will rely solely upon supply. If we increase potential demand capacity, then supply can increase in greater numbers allowing for more vendors to offer more product and earn a higher price. If we limit demand capacity, then vendors can raise prices and they aren't forced to offer more variety, but at the same time they will eventually reach a price point that creates a law of diminishing returns and thus, you will have customers saying I can get more variety at a cheaper price, what is the point of having this farmer's market? I can grow what I want or buy it at a grocery store.

This is the same thing our government is trying to do when it attempts to control the marketplace by limiting competition.

I don't see where it works in the long run.

Silence DoGood said...

@ Anonymous post of December 24th. Nice try, I'll give you that. Redirect the conversation and make it about you. Make it about dividing communities and not how council chose to spend the dollars, which was the original premise of what was being written about. But lets go in that direction, shall we?

I'm curious, from whence did you obtain your information concerning budget appropriations? A little insider assistance perhaps to instigate your feign and re-direct campaign? Oh, if the bus line isn't serving your community, obviously you have the clout to get that addressed with council. All it takes is a budget amendment. I'm wondering too, how long have the sidewalks been in existence in the older sections of NW and NE Hickory?

No, I think it's clear for anyone with eyes to see what your purpose is. This isn't about you, not in the abstract. This is about how City Council funds cart blanche what it wants, who is involved or receives benefit of those doings, and how everyone else is left with scraps. Trickle down access and economics, Hickory Style.

harryhipps said...

Anonymous, my comments were not directed at any mismanagement as far as the farmers market, as it is now constituted is concerned. As far as what you can do with the the given space and location it operates fine. The product mix and set up is fine as far as it goes. Since this area has only so many vendors, a dialogue about what hours of operation is prudent. And if you can only have a limited number of vendors certainly you need to find a suitable, diverse mix. But isn't that the point?

If there was a larger area, more overlap could be permitted because the market could reach more people. There could be not just more farmers but food co ops that could order and pick up bulk foods or specialty items. There could be rented facilities where culinary entrepreneurs could rent kitchen space to sell and sample their products. there are five of these in this state that allow the start up food business to have low cost ways to make their bbq sauce, cakes, baking mixes, etc at a low entry cost and establish a customer base before moving on. There are small textile craft producers in the area that could expand what is now a home business by selling there. And so on.

While the farmers market as it is is run well and is well liked, I think there is the potential for a larger venue which could be a draw from the region as distinguished from just the City. There are numerous ways it could expand to be a greater asset than it is.

That is my pontification.

Anonymous said...

I was curious and asked myself: how many of these farmers grow in Catawba County? Out of 38 vendors listed on the HFM website, I confirmed 8 of them (21%) grow or prepare products in Catawba County.

Anna’s Sweet Treats - ?
John H. Bigelow Photography - Mt. Pleasant, NC
Beam Family Farm - Lawndale, NC
Bluebird Farm - Morganton, NC
Blue Ridge Apiaries - Hudson, NC
Childers Farm - Whittier, NC
Coto Family Farms - Vale, NC
Crane/Herbville Farm - Granite Falls and Lenoir, NC
Crowe’s Produce - Morganton, NC
Daphine & Sons Asparagus Farm - ?
Davis and Son Orchard - Lawndale, NC
Diane’s Bakery - Hickory, NC
The Dog House - ?
Donna Wood - ?
Farmer's Daughter - Taylorsville, NC
Gayle’s Gardens - Caser, NC
Hoffman Farms - Lincolnton, NC
Ed Huss - ?
Interior's by Betsy - ?
Jerry Harris - ?
Richard Hill Farm - Lawndale, NC
Keller's Gourd Barn Crafts - Cornelius, NC
Lisa’s Baked Goods - Hickory, NC
Living Greener Days - Hickory, NC
Mills Garden Herb Farm - Statesville, NC
Muddy Creek Mushroom Farm - Morganton, NC
Nancy Jaeger - ?
O My Soap! - Newton, NC
Open Hearts Bakery - Morganton, NC
Raby’s Greenhouse - Hickory, NC
Ripshin Goat Dairy - Lenoir, NC
Rock House Farm - Morganton, NC
Setzer’s Nursery - Claremont, NC
Sipe Angus Farm - Claremont, NC
Snyder Family Farm - Granite Falls, NC
Summer Fresh Flowers - Newton, NC
Tumbling Shoals Farm - Millers Creek, NC
Whippoorville Farms - Hickory, NC

I was unable to find addresses for the other 8 (21%) of vendors.