By Emily Votruba, Parks & Rec Secretary
At the February Parks and Rec meeting this year, Elberta Farmers’ Market master Sue Oseland presented a proposal to apply for a $70K USDA grant for permanent, piped restroom facilities at the Penfold/Farmers’ Market park. The restroom would be 10×20 with two separate ADA-compliant family restrooms. The facility would be locked at night and would shut down completely from late October to beginning of May.
For many years now the Market and Penfold Park have been served by two porta-potties. The Parks and Rec Commission and the Village Council agreed that permanent facilities would better serve Farmers Market patrons and vendors during the season as well as people who use the Betsie Valley Trail, which has an important junction there at M-22. The Parks & Rec Commission voted to support Sue’s application and voted to kick in another $5K for a drinking fountain if the grant was received.
The Village received word June 3 that the USDA had accepted the proposal but due to their own budget constraints are prepared to award only $50K of the original $70K requested. Before making their offer official, USDA needs to know whether the Village would still proceed with the project with this partial funding. The deadline to let them know is June 10.
Parks & Rec and the Village Council will hold a special joint meeting June 9 at 6:30 in the Community Building to decide if they can commit to do the project with the lesser funding amount and/or commit Village funds to the project. The Village is still in a deficit situation, despite progress in shaving it down; six years after the Village was placed on watch by the state for fiscal stress, our revised Deficit Elimination Plan has still not yet been accepted by the Treasury Department. Avoiding cost overruns is certainly top of mind for everyone.
P&R and Council hope the community will come out for this very important discussion. Can we complete this project for $50K? And/or can we count on additional support from the community to bring us up to the projected $70K? The Parks & Rec Commission feels that a safe, up-to-date, attractive facility would be a huge asset to the market, the park, the trail, and our human community here in the Village. Please come and tell the Village leadership what you think. Ψ