While not endorsing a plan in Dickinson to build a public market at this point, city leaders should take the next step and start a formal planning process.

The city’s plan to build a public market, which would feature food and wares from local restaurants and businesses and create a strong downtown center, got a big financial boost last month from the federal government.

The U.S. Commerce Department announced it would award $3 million to the Dickinson Economic Development Corp. to help it build a 30,000-square-foot building billed as the Gulf Coast Market.

The money is being awarded through the Commerce Department’s Economic Develop Administration. Federal officials and elected leaders said they expect the market to help Dickinson recover from the severe damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, according to a statement announcing the award. Dickinson’s Economic Development Corp., which is funded by local sales taxes, is expected to contribute $1.3 million to the project, according to the federal government. That money, by law, can only be used for economic development and cannot be used for other projects, such as street repair.

Hundreds of homes were swamped by Harvey’s floods, as were around 160 businesses, according to the city. Most, but not all, of the flooded businesses have reopened, but the city is very much still recovering, Dickinson Mayor Julie Masters said.

But we understand some people are skeptical, which is why the city and the Dickinson Economic Development Corp. should take the next step and create an advisory board to create a business plan for the market.

The public market concept was first pitched to the public in January 2018. The city’s Economic Development Corp. and a private consultant described the idea as a public marketplace in the style of Seattle’s Pike Place Market that would feature locally owned restaurants and stores. Pike Place Market is a neighborhood of hundreds of farmers, craftspeople, small businesses and residents that was formed more than 100 years ago.

The city applied for a grant from the Commerce Department in March, said Alison Benton, the interim economic development director for the Dickinson Economic Development Corp. The grant doesn’t guarantee the market will be built, but it does help the project get closer to reality, Benton said.

The city held a public forum in March about the concept.

The next step should be to come up with a business model and hold more public forums.

But if the federal government is willing to kick in $3 million, it seems there’s no reason for Dickinson leaders not to move forward.

• Dave Mathews

Dave Mathews: 409-683-5258; dave.mathews@galvnews.com

(6) comments

LJ ODom

Mr Matthews, My opinion only, but I feel the citizens who live in Dickinson would much rather have 3 million dollars spent on improving the drainage and removing trees and trash out of the overgrown ditches so homes do not flood again. Or repairing the awful potholes in a majority of the streets traveled daily. Or having a reputable contractor to pick up trash from neighborhood homes. Or adding to our city departments so these tasks can be done regularly. I don’t know if anyone disputes that maybe a market might work but the infrastructure certainly needs to be addressed and improved before adding insult to injury. The cart is in front of the horse.

Randy Chapman

Amen! It appears Dickinson is not going to do anything until FEMA answers their begging.

Chris Tucker

LD Odom, the Public Market (and it is not a Farmer's Market) will be built be the Dickinson Economic Development Corporation (no City funds will be used) which is primarily funded by a portion of the sales tax revenue for items sold in Dickinson. By law the monies have to be used for economic development purposes. It can not be used to fix roads, clear ditches or used for any other infrastructure items. The Public Market would not only improve the quality of life in Dickinson but would create additional sales tax revenue which would be used for street repairs, drainage issues and other infrastructure issues. Thank you for your time.

PS Robbins

Do you honestly envision consumers pulling off of 45 to drive down 517 to go to this Public Market? You seem to have quite a bit of insight into this project. Presumably there is an "anchor" merchant that will be the primary attraction? If so, would be highly interested to learn the name of this company/business.

LJ ODom

Mr Tucker, I’m sure you are a nice person but it’s apparent by my misspelled name and the typos in your comments that not much attention is paid to citizens opinions or feelings regarding areas posted about. We all know that the market is coming; no doubt about it. Hell or high water. You and I have had this conversation. Can’t fight city hall. Your statement contradicts itself by stating that a portion of the market building money will come from sales tax revenue that can only be used for economic development and not for repairing roads, cleaning ditches or infrastructure because it’s the EDC budget. Then you state that the market will improve the quality of life of citizens by providing more sales tax revenue that will be used for street repairs, drainage issues and infrastructure. I think I know the point you are trying to get across; I understand budgets. The city funds the Economic Development Corporation with sales tax revenue that could be better spent by repairing streets, cleaning ditches and building infrastructure instead of funneling the money over to the EDC where the use restrictions are. That is the point of my post. We are as frustrated as you are. You want the market; we want drainage issues addressed, streets repaired, better city departments and infrastructure...first. Thank you for your time.

PS Robbins

Totally fool hearted plan that’s been on the table pre-Harvey; ever consider why if it’s such a fantastic idea that Private Interest/Developers are not jumping at the chance to capitalize on the city’s plan to build a public market? That 3 mill will come with all sorts of conditions and set asides.

This money could far far be better spent on the infrastructure within the community starting with the roads and code enforcement on residential and commercial properties that have literally been ripe with refuse and debris before and after Harvey.

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