Pasco Specialty Kitchen and Farmers Market handed over to new owners. What will change?

Pasco’s specialty cuisine and seasonal Farmer’s Market will be under new management on June 1.

The city announced Wednesday that it will take over the reins of Pasco’s two longstanding efforts beginning the same day as the departure of the executive director of the Downtown Pasco Development Authority (DPDA).

City Manager Adam Lincoln told the Tri-City Herald the move will free up resources that the development authority can use to invest in other areas of economic development and support for local businesses.

“I think it builds capacity for what a PDA can actually do. They can own property. They can sell goods. They have a bigger mission,” he said. “They haven’t had that ability for a while to take on those roles. I think it will alleviate some of the staff oversight that they have had to take on over time…It’s a good help for them.

Lincoln said it would also have been impossible for the DPDA board to take on management responsibilities. The 501c3 nonprofit hadn’t hired someone to replace executive director Jerry Martinez.

Service at the Farmers Market and Specialty Kitchen will continue uninterrupted.

The market runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May through October at Peanuts Park. It is known for its fresh produce, its artisanal products and as a social place.

And the commercial incubator’s kitchen — near the market at 110 South 4th Ave., and used by local businesses like the Pasco Hamburger Company and Pasco Taco Crawl 2023 winners Powell’s Inferno — operates year-round.

Jesse Rice, the city’s chief information officer, who also serves as acting director of parks and recreation, will directly manage the kitchen and farmers market.

Lincoln said the cost of management will be minimal for the city, but they are currently reviewing the needs of both operations and may make investments soon.

Downtown Pasco Development

The DPDA is an independent, not-for-profit public planning authority whose mission is to support economic revitalization around the city centre.

The transfer of the Specialty Kitchen and Farmers Market marks the first step in reimagining DPDA’s role in supporting downtown businesses.

Without these two entities, the DPDA is now responsible for managing a few events, such as the Fiery Foods festival and the Pasco Cinco de Mayo festival.

But the city also hopes to eventually split the DPDA into two single entities that will operate separately as a public development authority and a Main Street program nonprofit.

And the city of Pasco is paying a consultant $50,000 this year to review the DPDA’s organizational structure and assess the organization’s goals and future direction. This report should be published in June.

The city is a major financial supporter of the DPDA and has given it about $120,000 so far this year.

“DPDA has always been a strong supporter of small business and the downtown Pasco community,” Board Chair Kylie Grimes said in a prepared statement. “We are confident that the City of Pasco is well equipped to manage these community treasures, enabling both the DPDA Board and City Council to develop a solid strategy for the future.”

The city has the expertise, the management capacity and the financial resources to do this work.

While this decision is seen as an optimistic step for the city and the DPDA, the future of the organization still remains opaque.

The organization has lost four directors since 2016, including Michael Goines, who admitted embezzling at least $90,000 from the organization and was convicted for the crime.

Martinez stepped in during a relatively turbulent time at the DPDA and served for about a year.

The 2022 Cinco de Mayo festival appeared to be a success, but behind-the-scenes spending appeared to have skyrocketed due to poor management. Among the expenses, DPDA paid more than $42,000 to rebook groups that were canceled in error.

The event was ultimately a financial dud. But the organization returned this year with a smaller, more family-oriented Cinco de Mayo event.

There have also been recent questions about the lack of investment in Pasco Specialty Kitchen.

The kitchen has lost money every year since 2019, including $70,000 in 2022, according to former manager Damien Davis’ report. The facility was understaffed, trained and underfunded, he said.

When a report came out, Martinez said they were working to fix the kitchen issues. But soon after, he announced his intention to leave the band.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *