Work has begun on a new multi-use pavilion in Berea, located at the intersection of Chestnut Street and Mt. Vernon Road.
Mayor Bruce Fraley made the announcement last week during a meeting of the Berea City Council, noting: "Omni Construction is on site and they are putting up some temporary fencing. We're looking forward to them getting started," said Fraley. "Hopefully we'll be able to get it open in time next year for the Berea Farmer's Market and it will be a multi-use pavilion, so we'll be looking forward to that," Fraley said.
Situated in the parking lot next to the former Tolle building, the 2,500 square-foot facility will be the new home of the farmer's market and will also serve as a venue for concerts and public performances, said Fraley. Officials are hoping the pavilion can also host classes and seminars for University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension, and as well as a venue for local artisans to sell their merchandise.
The total cost of the multi-use pavilion is estimated to be $565,400, but over 60 percent of the costs will be paid for with government grants. The City of Berea secured a $250,000 grant from the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy, and a $100,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development division. The balance of the cost will be funded by the Berea Tourism Commission.
Fraley suggested the project appealed to state and federal officials for two reasons. First, it will serve as a market for farmers and consumers from around the region, thus having a broad economic impact. Additionally, the facility will also serve as a resource for local residents. "We'll have something that will attract people to town, but we'll also have something that is available for our citizens," Fraley said.
In addition, the structure will be equipped with two shades for vendors, one 80 feet by 16 feet in size, and the other, and 40 feet by 16 feet. That will enable some farmers to back their trucks into stalls for the market.
Fraley said a number of parties contributed to securing funding for the project, including the efforts of the Berea Farmer's Market, Berea Tourism Commission, Berea College, Grow Appalachia as well as many citizens and public officials who voiced support for the project when it came up for consideration at the state level. Because of that broad base of support, Fraley said, Berea was able to make a good case for funding, even when the state was facing financial uncertainties. "I think it speaks to the strength of the project," Fraley said. "But this is also a good example of when persistence pays off."
Officials envision Berea's new multi-use pavilion as being a stepping off point to more economic development. Fraley noted there are several properties still zoned for business on Mt. Vernon Road, which was once a thriving commercial district in Berea. Additionally, the facility will eventually be located next to the Berea Welcome and Events Center, formally known as the Tolle Building, which is a focal point when motorists come into town from Interstate 75.
"This will be something attractive, a good way to say 'Welcome to Berea,'" Fraley said. "But it will also be a community asset, a gathering space and event location for decades to come."