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Boone Town Council Renews SAHA Lease; Farmers’ Market Returns to the Horn; Some Tension Still Lingers

By Jesse Wood

April 20, 2012. The Boone Town Council agreed to the sublease agreement between Southern Appalachian Historical Association (SAHA) and the Watauga County Farmers’ Market (WCFM) from May 1 to October 31, 2012.

SAHA will charge the WCFM $5,000 per year.

At a break during the Town Council meeting, Billy Ralph Winkler said, “We are thrilled to continue our partnership with the Farmers’ Market.”

On Tuesday, the Boone Town Council approved a two-year lease to SAHA, even though SAHA earlier proposed a 25-year lease.

“The town is hesitant to give [SAHA] a long term lease because we’re looking at the master plan for Daniel Boone Park,” council member Andy Ball said on Thursday before the meeting. “We think it’s easier if we iron out the details over the next few years … After that we may be able to negotiate a long-term lease.”

Ball added that SAHA is “stuck at two years right now.”

SAHA leases from the Town of Boone for $1 per year. 

At last month’s public forum meeting regarding the Daniel Boone Park, which encompasses the Watauga County Farmers’ Market and several other facilities, one person expressed ire at the fact that SAHA essentially gets a free pass with its $1 lease of the property from the Town of Boone while the Watauga County Farmers’ Market has to pay thousands of dollars to lease the parking lot from SAHA. 

Hours later at the April 19 Boone Town Council meeting, Council Member Jamie Leigh noted the tension between the Watauga County Farmers’ Market not being fully brought to the table with regards to the Daniel Boone Park redevelopment plan. 

She said four people called her a few hours before the council meeting. Among the topics discussed by at least one of those individuals was the fact that, though the steering committee for the project includes members of the Farmers’ Market, there wasn’t a “warm, fuzzy feeling that everyone was on board.”

At the public forum last month, the president of the Watauga County Farmers’ Market Bill Moretz admitted that he didn’t have enough lead time to discuss the issue with all the members of the Farmers’ Market. 

On Thursday night, council members suggested that more organization is needed within the Watauga County Farmers’ Market collective moving forward as a stakeholder within the Daniel Boone Park project.