Council still undecided after outcry over new possible market operator

The night was full of public outcry on Tuesday at the Lindsay City Council meeting, where the Council Chambers were packed once again. After the meeting was called to order by Mayor Pamela Kimball, public comment was opened and a dozen people approached the podium to speak to the Council.

Among the twelve people who spoke, a majority of the comments centered around the Friday Night Market’s (FNM) possible new market operator, Jimora Enterprises, and its new proposed location.

The first to discuss these issues was Maria Hernandez, who owns a fashion boutique downtown. Hernandez expressed her unhappiness at the new market location and stated that it is not fair to her business. Before she returned to her seat, Hernandez said the new location would do her business harm and that she felt discriminated against.

Esmeralda Arreola approached the podium to say that she would be speaking on behalf of the FNM vendors. Arreola listed both the goods and the bads about hiring Jimora Enterprises to operate the market. In her conclusion Arreola stated that she felt it would be a bad decision to have Jimora Enterprises run the market and that someone else would serve the market better.

Silvia Contreras followed her fellow Lindsay locals as she expressed her displeasure with the market’s new location. She also expressed concern with the proposed one hour parking rule. She said that the market’s new location will hinder her from moving her furniture out for people to see. 

The last public speaker for the night was Irene Ramirez. Ramirez stated that she is one of the FNM’s oldest vendors and can remember when there were only six or seven vendors out. She continued to say that she was appalled by the Council’s recent decisions regarding the market, and that when the market began it was a “mere nothing.” 

She feels that Virginia Loya, the Lindsay Chamber of Commerce director, deserves more credit for her efforts towards the market. She finished by stating that she hopes the Council will reconsider their options for a new market operator.

After the closing of public comment, the Council moved in to their routine reports. 

The reports began with Council member Yolanda Flores, who started by stating that she wanted to “address some issues.” She said that she wanted to see a breakdown of payments the City makes. Flores is concerned that the City is still paying the electric bill for the McDermont X. She also stressed the importance of listening to the community.

Flores reported that she and Council member Roseana Sanchez took a trip to Sylmar to visit a retail cannabis dispensary, Dr. Greenthumb. She was surprised at its size and cleanliness, and was wowed by the security they had in place.

Flores finished her report by saying she had received a phone call regarding yard sale signage and was unsure how to answer the questions she was asked.

Council member Brian Watson gave his brief report by stating that he was inspired by all of the prayers the community has been receiving.

The reports moved on to Sanchez, who gave a update on the beautification of Harvard Park. She said that she was unable to attend the scheduled meeting, but will be meeting with students from the high school’s Key Club on Thursday.

Sanchez relayed information from the most recent Lindsay Health Advisory board meeting. She stated that Summer Night Lights would be starting soon, and that members of the community will be celebrating Earth Day by cleaning up around town. She finished by informing the Council of martial arts classes for autistic and special needs children that will be taking place at the Wellness Center.

Council member Laura Cortes followed Sanchez with her reports for the night. Cortes spoke of the women’s conference she attended at the Wellness Center, and reminded the room that March is national Women’s History Month. She also stated that some city sports leagues would be starting late due to the amount of recent rainfall.

Kimball was the last to report for the Council, and was excited to announce that she had the opportunity to read her favorite Dr.Seuss book to a group of kindergartners to celebrate Dr.Seuss’ birthday. She wrapped up the Council reports by saying that there will be a St. Patrick’s Day dinner served at the Lindsay Museum.

Due to the absence of Lindsay High School’s student representative, Ireland McCall, the meeting progressed to a staff report from City Manager Bill Zigler. 

Zigler informed the Council that groundwater levels have been on the rise, thanks to the recent rains. He also stated that surveys will be conducted to learn what Lindsay residents would like to see happen to the Olive Bowl. He wrapped up the night’s reports by saying that there will be lifeguard training and a lifeguard job fair coming to the Wellness Center very soon.

The Council moved the the consent calendar which was quickly approved with a vote of 5-0. 

A site plan for a community labyrinth was proposed to the Council, and after a brief discussion the labyrinth was approved. This new addition to the City will be on the northeast portion of the lawn around City Hall. No date was set to begin construction.

The Council unanimously agreed that having their pictures in the upcoming Orange Blossom Festival pamphlets is important, and that funding for this would come from the City Council budget.

The most anticipated item for the night, the negotiation and execution of a contract with Jimora Enterprises for the FNM operations, came up for discussion towards the end of the meeting. During this discussion, Cortes briefed the Council on the process of choosing a new market operator. 

She said that the city received three applications in total, one from Hugo Flores, one from Jimora Enterprises, and one from the Lindsay Chamber of Commerce. Each application was scored on a matrix of six categories, with a total of a possible 100 points. Hugo Flores scored in at 57.7, Jimora Enterprises scored a 91.2, and the chamber scored a total of 61.3. Because their score was the highest, Jimora Enterprises was brought before the Council for acceptance. 

As discussion began, Flores made her position very clear, and made a motion to return the FNM back to the chamber. This motion was seconded by Sanchez, forcing the Council to do a roll call vote. Both Sanchez and Flores voted in favor, while the remaining three Council members voted in opposition. 

After the vote, Arreola approached the Council to say that she had done some research on Jimora Enterprises and stated that she found arrest records for marijuana plants and firearms that were filed against the owners of Jimora Enterprises.

Upon further discussion, the Council asked Zigler why no background checks had been conducted, to which he replied a background check takes place once a contract is approved. 

Flores made a second motion to table this item until the next meeting, so a proper background check could be run on the potential market operators. This was unanimously agreed upon with a vote of 5-0.

Lindsay’s Director of City Services Mike Camarena presented the Council with an update regarding 2019 street projects. Camarena stated that there was a delay in construction on the roundabout due to rain, but once the roundabout is closer to completion, the city will begin to prepare to advertise for bids on street construction projects.

Continuing an ongoing conversation, the Council’s last item for the night concerned retail cannabis businesses coming to Lindsay. The Council indicated in previous meetings that they would like to see a cannabis retail business operate downtown. A perimeter for these businesses was established, and included the area of  Samoa Street, Mirage Avenue, Sweetbriar Avenue and Honolulu Street. 

The Council also agreed upon limiting the number of allowed cannabis retail businesses to no more than two, but stated that the number could rise in the future if the Council wished.

The next Lindsay City Council meeting is scheduled for March 26 beginning at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers in City Hall located at 251 E. Honolulu Street.

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