ALPENA - The City of Alpena and the Alpena Farmers Market have had a close relationship over the years. In order to preserve the relationship, the farmers market requested that Alpena Municipal Council enter into a formal agreement so the farmers market can continue to operate as it currently does, after a new 120 foot-by-24 foot structure is built.
Farmers market President J.B. Cook said the group has been in communication with the branding committee and with the city and has reached a plan that would meet the needs of the farmers market and the branding committee. Cook said in order for the group to receive some grants it needs certain assurances from the city.
"Right now we don't have a guarantee that we will be able to operate in the new structure in the same manner that we are in the structure that we have now," Cook said. "In order to proceed we need to know that the farmers market has the right to use the structure on Saturday mornings and Wednesday mornings. We are going to have to know that we are in control of farmers market's activities that take place."
The council agreed the farmers market is an important aspect of the community and recommended City Attorney Bill Pfeifer form a report with a recommendation on how to enter into a deal. Pfeifer said he should be able to have the information for the council at its next meeting on Nov.19.
"It has essentially been a gentleman's agreement and they have been operating there for a number of years with the city's permission and it has been a productive relationship," Pfeifer said. "They just want some assurances that will continue, especially if they are going to help raise money and contribute toward the building."
The new structure would allow for the farmers market to remain open year round and provide an enclosed environment, water and heat for the vendors and the customers. Cook said $15,000 has been raised thus far and another $10,000 in the form of a matching grant from the Besser Foundation.
In other business, the council voted to opt out of the P.A. 152 Health Insurance Premium Option, which would permit employees to enter into an 80-20 health care plan or a hard cap plan. By opting out, the council and the employees can seek a more affordable option before union contract negotiations begin.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5689.