Ag building proposal comes before Cedartown commission
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.
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.