Monday, June 2, 2014

Year Round Farmers Market

There will be a public meeting to discuss the possibility of a permanent location for a year-round farmers market tomorrow night, June 3, at 7 p.m at the Civic Center.

For those who don't know, there are two farmers markets in Carbondale that operate Saturday morning, the decades old one that operates on the west side of town and the more recent one that sets up in the Carbondale Community High School parking lot during spring through fall and moves inside during the winter months. Councilwoman Jane Adams has a post with her thoughts on her blog.

From what I understand, the plan would be, ideally, to find or construct a location large enough for both markets to set up and weatherproof to allow them to operate 52 weeks a year. The Civic Center is a possibility but Saturdays require an all day rental, rather than just the morning. I don't think the Civic Center is large enough to house both markets comfortably, either.

I have not ventured inside the CCHS building in several years so, while the parking lot is certainly large enough to accommodate two markets, I do not know about the interior so have no idea if the combined markets could fit inside.

Possibly University Mall? I have seen successful farmer markets set up inside of malls before and the empty Food Court at UM has quite a bit of unused space, though many of the tables and chairs would need removing.

Another option are the two vacant lots in downtown along the railroad tracks where Southern Recycling and Peerless Laundry used to sit. It would certainly be nice to have something built there and a farmers market would draw people into downtown, something the city council has said is of great importance to them. Parking might be an issue, as both of the current markets have access to large amount of it and moving them into one location could tax available parking. Plus, from where would the money for construction come? The city is operating under budgetary constraints as it is, recently passing sales tax increases to cover costs, so likely does not have the funds available to embark on an ambitious building plan.

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