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Fonfara opts out of marketing business park

The city of Sunnyside this past Tuesday was notified by Dave Fonfara that he is removing himself as consultant for the marketing and development of the West Sunnyside Business Park.

The announcement came a day after the Sunnyside City Council's decision to hire Frank Sweet as interim city manager.

Last month he submitted a proposal for a marketing plan of what was once the Monson feedlot. That plan came with a price tag of a little more than $33,000, approximately $17,000 of which would have been paid to him by the inactive Sunnyside Economic Development Association (SEDA).

Sunnyside City Councilman Jim Restucci was vice president of SEDA when it was disbanded in 2007. He said the money had been sitting in an account and the board brought Fonfara's plan for marketing and developing the West Sunnyside Business Park before council last month.

He said the proposal was sound and the council decided to it would be a good partnership between the city and Fonfara.

SEDA, said Restucci, was a small group and was inactive because it couldn't survive on its own. At the time of its disbanding there was an effort to partner with the Yakima County Development Association (YCDA).

With Fonfara's recent announcement to withdraw, he said the city and the board members of SEDA might refocus on that partnership for the purpose of marketing and development of the West Sunnyside Business Park.

"I'm not certain what will happen," said Restucci.

"Some of the funds are public trust dollars and must be used wisely," he said.

Fonfara said he believes the framework for the proposed partnership between the city of Sunnyside and SEDA has merit and should be considered.

"From my perspective, it's important for the city to be aggressive in the development of this property (West Sunnyside Business Park)," he told the city council and City Manager Mark Gervasi.

"New Vision (YCDA) does a very good job of promoting economic development in the Yakima Valley," said Fonfara.

He told the Daily Sun News, "I simply believe that my involvement would be a potential distraction to a very important economic development initiative."

Fonfara said he believes the city of Sunnyside would be best served "without my assistance."

He did not elaborate further on his decision.

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