Farmers Market Site Ripening
Bonnie Davidson / The Courier
While Red Rock Plaza, formally Magruder's, has been covered in snow and ice it will be filled with activity in the summer. It has been used for the Farmer's Market for a few decades and with the help of a grant it will be cleared of contamination from old gasoline tanks and will remain in use for the market.
While many will remember the last few decades of fresh produce being offered at the "Red Rock Plaza," they might not have realized they were walking on contaminated ground. The park located at 135 3rd St. S. has been in the process of remediation and is now looking at a more permanent future.
While it wasn't radioactive, and it wasn't a disaster area, it did create enough of a mess to bring in Shelli Isle of Great Northern Development (GND) to seek grants for removing two old tanks and do an environmental site assessment and continue with a sampling and analysis plan. The grant was received and tanks were removed. Monitoring showed that the contamination was local and didn't wander too far from the old site.
Readers might wonder what could have contaminated the ground and what the tanks held. What some call the Red Rock Plaza was actually owned by the Magruders. It was a gas station, a car dealership and a shop that sat for many years for Glasgow. It was one of the last stops several people would take on their way out to Fort Peck.
Dale Dascher remembers the building and couldn't quite place when the building was torn down. He does remember very clearly attending the auction sometime in the late 1970s or early '80s. He bought a one-of-a-kind car that was previously owned by Mrs. Magruder, a1951 Chrysler Crown Imperial. Dascher explained where the pink pavement at the location.
"The pink concrete there was part of the showroom," Dascher said.
He remembers fairly clearly the archway that once stood above the garage. He explained that the building had been there before 1938, when he arrived in Glasgow. When the owner, Paul Magruder, passed away equipment and cars were auctioned off and eventually the building was torn down.
Where things get a little muddy is who owned the property after the family auctioned off the belongings. Director of Public Works Bob Kompel explained that the property had back taxes owed. The actual ownership of the property remained in question. The family thought they had given it to the city and Tammi Dahl, organizer of the Farmers Market, said that Ivy Stebleton had mentioned the deed for the land being sold to her for a low cost.
After the building left an empty lot, community members found a new use for the land. The Farmers Market began on Magruder's property sometime in the '80s. Stebleton organized the event and eventually Dahl took over ownership of organizing it. Dahl and others have volunteered their own time and money to keep the area maintained. Placing flowers, keeping plants watered and leaving the area more enjoyable to residents have all just been part of what volunteers have done.
"I kind of wanted to keep it up for the market; it looks better and I just like it nice," Dahl said.
Dahl has been organizing the event herself for the last 14 years. She brings in vendors and makes sure there are tables for $5 for anyone to sell their homegrown goods. Dahl said that as the years have gone by and some of the vendors have gotten older, the Farmers Market has gotten a little smaller. She's been trying to get more vendors to join in and has been trying to grow a bigger variety of vegetables.
While she's heard talk of the property possibly selling, she's looked at other areas to continue the Farmers Market. She was concerned when they pulled the old tanks from the ground that it would interfere with the weekly event, but she was happy to see that it didn't really affect them. The Farmers Market takes place between July and October of every year on Saturday's.
"There's nothing better than a homegrown tomato," Dahl said.
Previous mayor Dan Carney attended a meeting with GND and Kompel with the Valley County Commissioners to discuss the intent with the property use. The idea was to forgive backed taxes and turn ownership to the city of Glasgow. The city and the county would also enter into an agreement that the property would remain a place for the Farmers Market. The park would be a joint city-county facility and the maintenance and insurance would later be worked out in the agreement. The county first wanted the cleanup to be finished before the agreement was made.
Kompel reported in a memo to the city council that the city would have to go back to the commissioners after the final phase of remediation, or the cleanup, of the property was completed. Once the park was given a clean bill of health they could finish the agreement.
In the last city council meeting that took place on Monday, Feb. 3, the council approved the agreement with NewFields Companies, LLC, to finish testing six designated areas for monitoring the contamination. The wells will be monitored over a period of time to be sure that all contaminants have been removed.
The final bill of health might not come until the fall, but once the agreement made between the city and county is made the "Red Rock Plaza Park" will be a permanent and legal fixture for future Farmers Markets.