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  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 . 

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 , 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."

concernedcitizen April 05, 2012 at 01:02 PM
This entire issue has been an embarassment to the city. A farmer's market to draw people downtown is a GREAT idea. Now find a way to make it happen, expand the market, and continue downtown revitalization. The inability of our city council to support this wonderful idea leads me to feel that there are many small minded people sitting on the council today. Offer Capron Park or the Riverwalk, give the library a booth for selling books, create a larger venture that attracts people downtown who might then eat at Morin's, visit the Blackington Inn, or walk through some of the shops that have opened in the area. Recognizing the great potential in this market is not rocket science! I don't generally involve myself in city politics but this entire issue has gotten out of hand. Those council members who are offering obstacles instead of solutions should be ashamed of themselves.
Reason April 05, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Better would be setting up a book sale stand for the duration of the farmers market.
Henry April 05, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Nice story, however, where is The Farmers Market going to be located? I couldn't help but notice that was missing from the story. I hope it doesn't imply that the market is moving to another town...that would be just sinful...:-(
Jack Rogers April 05, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I think Attleboro City Council members should pay attention to the remarks of "concerned citizen" above in this matter. While the Farmers' Market is apparently not producing a notably large bottom-line profit for the city, it does function to bring a cultural focus onto the center of Attleboro, producing positive INTERNAL and external public relations results for the city in the minds of its residents and those of nearby communities. I suggest that that pays a good amount in non-quantifiable dividends to the city and its citizens, which can have positive spillover results (both commercially and otherwise) over time. Take a walk around the central area of the city while observing incisively. There are various images not necessarily all positive. A well-functioning farmers' market (which I believe it has been) projects to all observers quite a POSITIVE public message of community cohesion, inventiveness, and commercial-friendliness. Surely members of the City Council and leaders of the market can work together to save and enhance such an image! Jack Rogers
Roxanne Houghton April 05, 2012 at 04:37 PM
City Councilor Jonathan Weydt's filing for Reconsideration of the Farmers Market vote is entirely legal. It is a protection written into our City Charter to ensure the protection of "the minority" - meaning the losing side. (the winning side can also file for reconsideration. This is nothing new - has been done before and is on record for all to see. I am hoping that a more welcoming message can be sent to the Farmers Market. as I, too,noticed that no location was mentioned. This has become a power struggle and the good of the city has been forgotten by many council members. Lets hope......


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