City council votes unanimously to hand Friday Night Market over to Virginia Loya who lost the market after falling behind on payments to the city in 2019
LINDSAY – After weighing all their options the Lindsay City Council sided with a stalwart community member to reassume her duties as the head of the Friday Night Market.
In a unanimous, 5-0, vote the council approved Virginia Loya’s proposal, and gave their blessing for city manager Joe Tanner to hammer out a contract with her. The decision on Tuesday, Jan. 25, put to rest any movement toward the city taking it over themselves. According to Tanner, conservative projections would have yielded the city $29,314 of profit, but cost the city $340,285 to run.
This also meant that the city was completely moving on from Jimora Enterprises who accepted a contract to run the market in April 2019, but was heavily impacted by the pandemic hampering their ability to maximize profits. Jimora Enterprises lobbied to keep the market operating into the winter, but that effort ultimately collapsed late last year.
Selecting Loya’s bid to run the market practically revives her relationship with the city. Before Jimora Enterprises ran the market it was completely under the control of the Lindsay Chamber of Commerce, of which Loya was the executive director. An irreconcilable difference between the chamber and city came to a head in early 2019 when the chamber fell $20,000 behind on their payments to the city for renting streets and using other utilities. Loya said that her accountants found that the chamber owed less than that, and over two city council meetings in February 2019, Loya and other chamber supporters publicly handed checks of $10,000 and $3,000 to then finance director Bret Harmon.
That was not forgotten by councilmembers Yolanda Flores and Rosaena Sanchez. During the Jan. 25 council meeting Flores noted her concern that while Loya was applying to take over the market herself, she is still a member of the all volunteer Lindsay Chamber of Commerce. Still, Flores voted in favor of awarding her the bid.
Sanchez recalled how remarkable the market was when it first opened in Lindsay, but she echoed some of Flores’s concerns over how the relationship between the chamber and the city ended. Sanchez ultimately sided with optimism and said how she would like to see Loya get a second chance to run it again.
“[H]opefully, there can be an agreement where we can help out each other. And, you know, go back to what it used to be,” Sanchez said.
While Loya didn’t give any ground to Flores’s concerns, in fact she defended her decision to pay the city $7,000 less than they owed, she held firm that she wants to have a greater impact in Lindsay.
“I’m willing to work, like I’ve done in the past. I’m willing to work with our city, and I’m willing to do my best like I did before, and bring it back to what it was before, because a lot of you know that it was nice,” Loya said.
The city said they conservatively expect to make $2,500 per market, but Tanner told the council they had made $3,000 per market in the past. While those are details that could be hammered out in negotiations, Loya said she would be willing to pay more than the $2,500 requested if she can.