Board approves farmers' market permit despite complaints
MANCHESTER — The Manchester Select Board approved the Manchester Farmers' Market vending license for the coming 20-week season, but not before a couple of local businesses owners gave them an earful about parking and other issues related to the market.Tim Stevenson, owner of Miss Phyllls Fine Linens & Frocks, which is across the street from Adams Park where the market is held, said the Thursday afternoon market essentially shuts him down every week.
The market representatives were in attendance to get its annual vending license required for the event, which is held for two hours every Thursday. This year's market is scheduled to be held from May 23 through Oct. 3
Stevenson and Tina Mayer, a seamstress, said the Thursday market takes up every parking spot in the area and many people park illegally.
"Many of us in our neighborhood feel it's time for the Farmers' Market to move on," Stevenson said. "It's grown and been a great success. It's just not a good location anymore. It's grown too big. It's really time to think about moving to a bigger, better location."
Stevenson referred to letters written to the Select Board complaining about the parking problem and congestion, which the board referenced receiving.
Stevenson said the Gravel-Shea funeral home has a parking problem.
"Parking is a major problem for the funeral home," Stevenson said.
But board members said they had actually received communication from the funeral home that they like the market and have no problems with it. Krysta Piccoli, the market manager, addressed the board and said she actually agrees with some issues.
"We do agree with some of the points in there," Piccoli said. "We do not think that moving the market is the solution to some of those problems."
Piccoli said vendors have already signed contracts for this year at that location. If the market is forced to move, many would simply drop out.
Plus she said, if the market moves to the rec park, tourists won't find it.
"If it's at the rec park, you'll get the locals, but you'll never get tourists," Piccoli said. "The horse show, we wouldn't have those customers if it was at the rec park."
One of those vendors was in attendance.
Oliver Levis said the Manchester Farmers' Market is probably the best weekday market in the state.
"I was a vendor when it was at the rec park," Levis said. "The market is much busier now. Moving from the rec park made a big difference."
Select Board chairman Ivan Beattie asked Piccoli if she was happy in Adams Park.
"Are you happy with the location," Beattie asked.
Piccoli said, that overall, yes. The only real problem was parking.
Beattie said he's supportive of the market.
"I feel that the activity at Adams Park has generally been a good thing," Beattie said. "I think it's nice to have that kind of activity in town. I know a lot of people who frequent the market. It's a big deal. I think the activity is a good thing in the middle of town."
After listening to the discussion, Stevenson took a more direct line with his opposition.
"We are fed up with the farmers' market," Stevenson said. "The people don't care, they're inconsiderate. We're fed up with the farmers market. Let me be very clear. We've had it."
That prompted Levis to point out that the vendors are businesses too.
Piccoli backed that up.
She said the impact on local businesses was two hours a day, once a week for 20 weeks. She said the impact is a small percentage of the time for them.
But, she said, for the 43 businesses and 20 musicians that trade at the market, it's 100 percent impact.
The board approved the permit for this year, but efforts will be made to improve signage and enforce parking regulations.
Board member Greg Cutler said ticketing illegal parking might help and encouraged the town to pursue that.
Board member Todd Nebraska pointed out that the idea is to have a walkable downtown.
"You're not necessarily going to have a parking space in front of every business," Nebraska said, adding there is a parking lot a half a block away. There' plenty of parking spaces in the downtown to serve the downtown if it's truly a walkable community. The farmers' market certainly adds more vitality than it attracts."
Contact Darren Marcy at email@example.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.
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