Ag build­ing pro­posal comes be­fore Cedar­town com­mis­sion

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Kevin Myrick [email protected]­stan­dard­jour­nal.net

The Cedar­town City Com­mis­sion is the lat­est group to hear about a pro­posed mixe­duse agri­cul­ture ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­ity, with the hopes of or­ga­niz­ers the city might join in ef­forts to bring the build­ing from plans and stud­ies to a phys­i­cal struc­ture for the use of all.

Glenn Robin­son was joined by the Young Farmer ed­u­ca­tor Jeff Hawkins in his lat­est pre­sen­ta­tion on the pro­posed fa­cil­ity, which would be po­si­tioned be­tween Cedar­town and Rock­mart in Fish Creek.

His idea is it be avail­able to not just the agri­cul­ture com­mu­nity, but also to make it use­ful for other events and par­ties, point­ing to the model Car­roll County em­ploys to keep their agri­cul­ture cen­ter op­er­at­ing year-round.

“The one in Car­roll County is full all of the time, and they look to build a new one be­cause they have a lot of ac­tiv­i­ties down there,” Robin­son said.

He added that the county schools even host their proms within the space.

Here in Polk County, Robin­son ad­mits that the lay­out and de­sign of the build­ing would copy much of what Gilmer County has done with their county agri­cul­ture fa­cil­ity, pro­vid­ing a large enough space to al­low for the Cat­tle­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion to come into the space in the morn­ing for a live­stock show, and then turn around and have it ready in the even­ing for the group to come back for din­ner and a dance. Re­tractable seat­ing within would be able to house 500 peo­ple.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Robin­son and Hawkins en­vi­sions the space to be able to house an in­door farm­ers mar­ket where peo­ple could go and buy fresh fruits and vegeta­bles, and then with can­nery equip­ment on site be able to take their pro­duce and save it for later use.

Robin­son told Cedar­town Com­mis­sion­ers they are still work­ing with county of­fi­cials in hopes of find­ing Spe­cial Pur­pose, Lo­cal Op­tion Sales Tax money to help with de­sign and con­struc­tion costs, and al­ready have be­gun the process of form­ing a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion with a board to take out­side pri­vate do­na­tions to help cover what’s needed as well.

He added the site would also in­clude 25 acres of land be­ing pro­vided by a pri­vate donor, which would be use­ful for stu­dents who want to have ad­di­tional space for live­stock to graze.

“We have agri­cul­ture ed­u­ca­tion in the schools,” Robin­son said. “But it doesn’t meet the needs of home (school stu­dents,) or of con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion for adults.”

His hopes that by pro­vid­ing a mixed-use for the fa­cil­ity, it will at­tract not just use for county res­i­dents but also to bring in trade shows, live­stock sales, and many other events that would en­sure any build­ing would op­er­ate and be rev­enue neu­tral, rather than cost tax­pay­ers an­nu­ally.

Robin­son and Hawkins pro- vided the city with a over­view of the 58-page fea­si­bil­ity study pre­vi­ously gen­er­ated on the fa­cil­ity and pre­sented to the county to look over as well.

Com­mis­sion Chair Matt Fos­ter thanked the pair for com­ing, and pro­vided an ad­di­tional note that when they seek out ad­di­tional help on the pro­ject, they should em­pha­size the role that agri­cul­ture plays in the lo­cal econ­omy. The Farm Gate value, or to­tal eco­nomic out­put gen­er­ated by Polk County farm­ers amounted to $24.6 mil­lion in 2017 — the lat­est fig­ures im­me­di­ately avail­able. Fos­ter said many peo­ple might not think about how much farm­ers lo­cally con­trib­ute back, and the pub­lic should be made more aware of that when they seek help in fi­nanc­ing the pro­ject.

/ kevin Myrick

Glenn Robin­son and Jeff Hawkins showed off an artists ren­der­ing pro­duced by Rock­mart’s Su­san Wa­ters to the Cedar­town City Com­mis­sion dur­ing their March work ses­sion.

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