Farmers’ market building examined for sports use

The city is considering the site for joint use by athletic groups and the farmers’ market.
Sunday, February 13, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:59 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 5, 2008

A farmers’ market located in the same building as recreational basketball courts could present a fresh take on the concept of after-game treats.

That’s one scenario facing the Columbia Farmers’ Market, which hopes to create a permanent, year-round home, as it nears a city-imposed deadline.

“We will probably make a recommendation to the council to continue the lease as arranged but not under the (30-year) program,” said City Manager Ray Beck. “Our staff is going to try to evaluate whether we could use a facility that the farmers’ market could jointly use for athletic programs or something of that nature, some kind of parks and recreation activity.”

On Feb. 8, Beck met to discuss the group’s lease with the chairman of Sustainable Farms and Communities, the nonprofit group that oversees the farmers’ market.

The legal agreement, which was signed March 21, 2002, requires the group to begin construction or site preparations on a permanent structure by April 1. But the group won’t be able to meet that deadline, said Dan Kuebler, chairman for Sustainable Farms and Communities.

Although Sustainable Farms and Communities was founded in 1998, its organizers have been working for 10 years to establish a permanent structure for the market.

The City Council must approve changes to the lease. Beck said he will give the council a recommendation early next month.

Beck said there is a high

demand for children’s gymnasium space in Columbia. Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hood said the city manager asked him to examine the possibility of a multi-purpose facility that will meet recreational needs of the community as well as the farmers’ market.

Steve Evers, a recreation specialist at the Activity and Recreation Center, said teams from the Columbia Youth Basketball Association looking for practice space are sometimes turned away for lack of room.

“Especially at this time of year, more kids are wanting to play basketball, and there aren’t as many opportunities for them to play outdoors when there’s snow on the ground and it’s cold and it’s wet,” Evers said. “We have been very, very busy.”

Douglass High School basketball coach Lynn Allen said he would also like to see more basketball courts in town. His team practices daily at the school, but its gym is too small to accommodate official games. Instead, the school’s team plays at Smithton Middle School or on the road. But use of the facilities isn’t guaranteed.

“We need more basketball space all over town,” Allen said. “When we can’t use the gym at Douglass, it’s almost impossible to find a place to play.”

The farmers’ market, which will celebrate its 25th year in March, is located next to the ARC at the intersection of Ash Street and Clinkscales Road.

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