Farmers Market Will Take Place, Official Says
Rules for the market could change with a new vote by the City Council.
The Attleboro Farmers Market will be open for business June 2, a member of the market's board of directors said Wednesday night. There had been speculation the weekly event would not take place due to the City Council's decision on Tuesday to place restrictions on the market.
[12 p.m. Update: Go here to read Attleboro Farmers Market President Heather Porreca's clarification on the position of market officials]
The new market rules could get a second look as soon as the next council meeting on April 17. Councilor Jonathan Weydt filed a motion with the city clerk Wednesday for reconsideration of the divided council's vote to approve two related measures featuring the new rules. Among the new rules are a requirement for market organizers to hire a police officer and a prohibition on patrons from parking at the market's location in the municipal parking lot next to the Attleboro Public Library.
Market Board member Virginia Flynn said in a Wednesday night interview that followed a lengthy board meeting, "June 2 is our goal date, from 8 a.m. to noon, and we're looking forward to seeing the farmers market patrons."
Flynn declined to elaborate about the details of the market organizers' plans, although she stated the location could change. The municipal parking lot has been a source of contention because library officials, some city councilors and others say it creates a safety risk and other problems.
"Everything is subject to change, of course," said Flynn in response to a question of whether the market would take place at the municipal lot. "Our one goal now is to be open June 2."
Weydt told Patch in a separate interview that he filed the motion so that city councilors could "just step back and reconsider what we're doing here."
"The future of the Attleboro Farmers Market is in jeopardy," said Weydt, who voted against the measures. "What was approved on Tuesday sent a message that Attleboro is anti-business. That is not a message we want to be sending at this time."
Only three times since 1999 has an Attleboro councilor on the losing end of a vote filed a motion for a decision to be reconsidered, Weydt said. He said he believes his action was legally sound according to the city's charter, and he consulted with former Mayor and Charter Commissioner Judy Robbins to confirm this.
City Solicitor Robert Mangiaratti is determining whether Weydt's action is allowed. The councilor said he hopes to receive a decision from Mangiaratti before the end of the week. If Mangiaratti decides against the councilor, Weydt said he would go to the state Attorney General's Office for a second opinion.
Weydt said this issue could have been handled better by all parties, including the city as well as market and library officials. He said a forum should have taken place at which market and library officials "should have really come to a conclusion together." He said the format of the special committee meeting that took place last month did not allow for this.
One idea Weydt has as a possible resolution is for the Friends of the Attleboro Public Library to be given a booth at the market that it could use to sell books.
The councilor said the requirement for market organizers to hire a police officer was the feature of the new rules that stood out the most as "anti-business." He said whether an officer would be needed should be a determination of the Attleboro Police Department, not the council. And if it were determined an officer were needed, that is something the city could pay for.
"The city could step up to the plate," Weydt said. "The city benefits from the farmers market and doesn't pay a dime for it. It brings in people to the area not only from all over Attleboro, but Seekonk, Rehoboth and other nearby towns. They support other local businesses when they come to the farmers market."