News Column

Farmers market location debated in city-county meeting

June 13, 2014

By Paige Rentz, The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.

June 13--Fayetteville officials say putting a farmers market under the Franklin Street parking deck is a bad idea.

The site was the top choice among downtown locations recommended by consultants this spring. But city officials are pointing to several reasons why the ground level of the parking deck wouldn't work.

The subject came up at a Fayetteville-Cumberland County Joint Liaison Committee meeting Thursday.

County Commissioner Jimmy Keefe voiced concern over a city memo that proposed the site of the Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum. The museum property is the current site of a city market where vendors sell produce, crafts and other items.

"It's a little disheartening for me," Keefe said. "We spent a lot of money, we had some experts come in and tell us (the parking deck) is the best place."

Deputy City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney said problems with the deck location include potential zoning and liability issues, limited growth potential, reduced visibility, loss of premium parking spaces on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and lack of restrooms and connections for water, electricity and Internet.

Financial agreements for the deck are restrictive due to federal funding for the project, she added.

And the site would be expensive for the market to use. The city estimates renting the ground floor of the parking deck would cost $900 per month.

The consultant's feasibility study said the museum "is not ideal for the vendors in terms of access, setup and take down. It is also somewhat limited in size thereby reducing the number of potential vendors."

It recommended three other locations in the downtown area, including the Hope IV project area, a vacant lot at the Salvation Army at Russell and Alexander streets, and a spot at Russell Street and Ray Avenue where CEED plans to build a kitchen incubator and pop-up cafe.

Small-Toney said the goal is to consolidate two disparate groups -- the City Market that operates at the transportation museum and the Fayetteville Farmers Market Association, which is looking for a location -- into one market with an organized advisory board and manager. Her memo included a layout for an expanded farmers market area beyond the current footprint of the City Market along Franklin Street and Ray Avenue.

"I think we have a fundamental difference of opinion on what a farmers market should be," Keefe said.

He noted the potential for a farmers market that sells only local food and products from local farmers, something that could be supported through Community Transformation Grant programs.

Councilman Larry Wright Sr. has expressed concern about the makeup of the market.

"If we're not careful, what we're going to have is a big flea market downtown in the name of a city market," he said. "I don't know if we really want to do that looking at the image we want to develop in the city."

Mayor Pro Tem Kady-Ann Davy said the city-county liaison committee will take up the issue at its next meeting Aug. 21.

Staff writer Paige Rentz can be reached at rentzp@fayobserver.comor 486-2728.


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Source: Fayetteville Observer (NC)

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