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Organizers Oppose Farmers Market Plan

A requirement to hire at least one police officer is not affordable, a market organizer says.

A proposal to allow the continued operation of the Attleboro Farmers Market at the 74 North Main Street parking lot while satisfying the safety and parking concerns of trustees for the adjacent public library got through a City Council subcommittee on Tuesday. But the plan could fall apart because market organizers say they cannot afford the requirement to hire at least one police officer.

Market organizers would have to pay $160 to hire an officer for a four-hour shift. The proposal calls for a five-hour market (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) on Saturdays from June 2 to Sept. 2 and a four-hour market (8 a.m. to 12 p.m.) through Oct. 27. Since officers are hired in four-hour blocks, the extra hour would bump the cost to $320.  Market co-organizer Heather Porreca said on Wednesday she supports a four-hour market for the entire year, but even with that it would cost too much money to hire an officer.

"We would have to consult our board if the police requirement stays [when the full council votes on the proposal], but it would be very difficult for us to afford that," Porreca said.

She said the market costs $3,850 per year to operate and brings in $4,200. There is no room in the budget for an officer. Vendors pay $10 to be part of the market. She said raising that fee would cause vendors to choose other options.

Although Porreca said it was not a deal breaker, she said she was also bothered by parking restrictions placed on the market. This includes market patrons not being allowed to park in the lot while the library is open (it is closed on Saturdays in the summer, open in the fall) and that organizers post a sign stating "Attleboro Library parking only—violators will be towed."

She said, "I have a huge concern because it’s a municipal lot. How do you enforce that?"

The proposal was put together following last week's meeting of the council subcommittee chaired by Jay DiLisio and featuring Mark Cooper and Jeremy Denlea. Library trustees and market organizers also attended the session.

Other features of the plan include a 30-vendor limit, requirement that the vendor booths be arranged in an L-shape in the fall and that the market not take place on the September date when the Friends of the Attleboro Public Library holds its book sale fundraiser.

DiLisio and Cooper voted for the proposal. Denlea voted against it. He called the proposal a "good deal" during the meeting, but wrote in an email to Attleboro-Seekonk Patch on Wednesday that he would have preferred the subcommittee supported his amendment that stated all parties understand the market cannot exist on the site after this year.

"The library parking lot is certainly an awkward venue," Denlea wrote. "I am confident that the Farmers Market would make a wonderful staple in the City Hall Municipal Parking Lot. This location is just a few blocks from the library parking lot; however, it has substantially more room for the Farmers Market, more room for parking and is on the main bus route in Attleboro. Additionally, there would be far fewer public safety concerns."

Porreca said the City Hall location is not good for various reasons, including that it has fewer nearby parking options than the library lot does.

Councilor Cooper voted against Denlea's amendment because he would want a study done after this year's market concludes to determine whether it could continue at the current location.

"I think we may … find we can co-exist and it works," Cooper said.

Linda Binns, acting chair of the Library Board of Trustees, said after Tuesday's meeting that she favored the proposal.

"Safety had been a problem," she said. "This is much more workable."

The full council is expected to vote on the proposal on Tuesday.

Fact Checker March 30, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Just Sayin': thank you for reading instead of letting emotions blur everything. I do not know about the tax situation with the high school and how it would relate to privately owned LaSalette. LaSalette must have some insight to the tax issue as they hosted a farmer's market all season. I was unaware that AFM had a police detail at the end of last year. It would occur to me that if it was deemed necessary at the end of last year and the goal of the AFM is to grow, then it would be needed again this year. I want the market at city hall, it makes the most sense to me if you follow the original statements of some supporters that the current location promotes access as it is on a bus line. I am glad to see that some supporters have finally given a true opinion (they want the current location because of increased visibility and the favorable tax situation). Had this position been argued originally instead of trying to mask it behind false statements perhaps this debate would be over with. I honestly believe that the city hall location is best: more vendor parking, more customer parking (in the lot, in the lot between the two buildings, on street, closer to the bus terminal and closer to the residents of the East side who, as Mr. Denlea has pointed out are some of the poorest in Attleboro.) That is not being divisive, that is a statement he made.
Just sayin' March 30, 2012 at 02:07 PM
You're welcome FC. Sometimes you make me laugh, oftentimes not :) but when you let emotions rule you can miss some really important stuff. Personally I would like to see AFM stay where they are, at least for this season. They have the success, their formula seems to work, they have the visibility. If they move out of city center they will lose the benefit of getting the flow from the Y (usually people who already value the importance of good nutrition). I don't have a strong objection to moving it to the city hall lot, I just don't see any need to interrupt something that is working well when there is no clear benefit to making the change. Regardless - I think we'll know either today or Tuesday
Grain March 30, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Taxes, taxes, taxes. So the state would tax the AFM if it was operating on private land? The AFM is providing fresh fruits and vegetables to the public. What would it take to change these tax laws to exempt an entity like the AFM from paying this state tax? Is it something the city counsel can bring to the attention of state officials? It'd be awesome to have the AFM at/on/near Capron Park. + if the state can tax the AFM if on private land, then how is that different from yard sales where multiple neighbors bring their stuff to sell on one persons yard? It seems the city counsel should be trying to make it easier for the AFM, and not be making additional requirements like requiring to hire a police officer.
Joe Pintapyramidadodecahedron March 30, 2012 at 03:33 PM
The TAX situation is nonsense, it is an only in Attleboro thing. Many FM's are held in or on tax exempt property, but only in Attleboro does the Tax Assessor, a non-citizen employee of the city attempt to tax what is an event held for the common good, why did he not attempt to tax the market when it was for years at the city hall lot? What is his potential gain or angle? Why are there bureaucrats seemingly lined up to shut this down? FYI a well organized diverse farmers market can pretty much survive a move to another spot, it usually is the case when a market out grows its original location and wise govt or private landowners want to make sure the market remains successful, sadly that wisdom seems to be lacking in Attleboro.
Lb4Lb March 30, 2012 at 05:49 PM
The City of Attleboro does not deserve a farmers market as successful as the AFM. If you look at what the market brings to the city for zero cost vs. the APL which costs huge amounts of money, it is a no brainier. Add to this that libraries are going the way of the typewriter and VCR. This will happen very rapidly; probably in the next 5-10 years. Everything that you can get in the library you can get online. There are even web sites where you can get electronic books on loan. Have the library stand on its own or shut it down! BTW, this is a great example of why Attleboro is a hollow shell of a city. I was in Concord yesterday and it has a thriving downtown. North Attleboro, Foxboro, Falmouth and Mansfield also have bustling down towns. Those are just a few that come to mind. My only thought on this is that the City management must be full filling the goals, wished and desires to turn the city into ghost town. Anything and everything that once made the Attleboro a great place to raise a family is gone. The best thing in the town is the new Thatcher Street Bridge (-:
Reason March 30, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Politics is the difference. The market is not the mayors pet project. Add to your list why the farmers market was targeted by the health department while the LaSalette market was not. I would think the library would enjoy the additional foot traffic and find ways to further promote themselves in the market.
Steve Hopkins March 31, 2012 at 12:09 AM
the lot at the library isn't really big enough esp if the market wants to expand, hopefully with other farmers selling farm produce. Not folks selling manicures and massages. Oooops! Getting off track! So, move now to the larger and more accessible City Hall area lots. Plenty of room to expand, parking etc. If it's a good farmers market, people will find you and purchase there. Some of you must remember where Haymarket farmers market was in Boston, don't you? It wasn't on the common or the green next to the swan boats...it was off on the fringes of downtown, and kinda crummy old warehouse area! Our city hall area is much nicer than that! So go there Farmers Market, and call it a day. Oh, but then what will we talk about??!!!
GiGi Grace March 31, 2012 at 02:38 AM
@Lb4Lb. I've heard through the grape vine that AFM has been asked to locate in North Attleboro, Plainville and Wentham. Good Bye Attleboro for the 2012 season!
Just sayin' March 31, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Good point, Steve. I mean, grocery stores only sell groceries, right? Not Firewood, Movies, Flowers, or silly things like nail polish, ice, coolers, frames, greeting cards, wrapping paper... etc
Lb4Lb March 31, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Mr. Hopkins; If the area behind city hall was an ideal space other businesses would be filling the empty buildings that surround the area. The problem with that area is no one will see the market. If they don't see it, they won't stop. You could promote it until the cows come home, it would not work. Just because you have a business does not mean it will be successful. It needs the proper visibility, ease of access, traffic flow, parking etc. The city hall lot has none of the above qualities. The AFM did not thrive when it was by the common. Why would it succeed when it has even less visibility. You have tipped your hand with the remarks about the other vendors at the market. The State of Massachusetts has guidelines for what constitutes a farmers market. The AFM falls within these guidelines. It is not up to you or Factchecker to decided how to run the AFM. Are you and Factchecker on the BOT? Both of you have to have some connection the APL. I think there should be an audit of the APL and the BOT. Something is up if they are this scared of the AFM being in the same parking lot. Attleboro will probably lose the AFM to a more enlightened city. The lack of vision and leadership in Attleboro is appalling and the main reason why the city has the reputation as being "closed for business". If you want to see the future of the city look to Central Falls or Pawtucket.
Steve Hopkins April 02, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Lb4Lb A farmers market does not have to be seen. As I mentioned about The Haymarket in Boston. Do you know where that was? Had you ever visited that market? If the market is good with a large variety of goods, people will find it and go to it. It can be mentioned on The Patch and the Attleboro Zone ezines. maybe the Chronicle will write about it during it's season. After all this hullabaloo, the citizens of Attleboro will certainly know where to go. And likely N.Attle, Norton and Seekonk too! I do not think farmers market depends on passersby for clientele. People walk or drive to it intentionally.
GiGi Grace April 02, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Good suggestions. Sadly: The Museum is private, has limited parking and classes on Saturdays. The train lot is owned by the state I think. Willett has soccer every Saturday and Sunday.
GiGi Grace April 02, 2012 at 02:51 AM
@ Just Saying: I heard that APL didn't take an offered space at AFM because of Union Contracts. Someone would have to work it. Also, lack of money in the budget. That could be true for the future desires of APL to open on Saturdays. @ City Council the APL Director stated they first have to restore Thursday morning hours before they can consider Saturdays. AFM has made many concessions. APL needs to do the same.
GiGi Grace April 02, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Good thoughts!! Call the Mayor please. However, there is lots of municipal parking in the area. Do a Google search or visit www.attleborofarmersmarket.com - I think they may have the maps posted.
GiGi Grace April 02, 2012 at 03:01 AM
If you watched the council meeting AFM needs to limit not grow. These are volunteers with families. They don't have unlimited time to devote. AFM has publicly stated that they NEED to limit vendors to 30. Rumors are rampant. Call the organizers of AFM or better yet watch the videos for truth and hear it first hand.
GiGi Grace April 02, 2012 at 03:28 AM
@ Steve. How do you know whether a Farmers Market has to be seen or not? Do you run one? Are you in the retail business? I think the organizers have done a fabulous job. And a huge thank you to all of you who have given your time to this wonderful community event. I've read that AFM had an average of 1500 patrons each Saturday for 20 weeks in 2011. That's 30, 000 visits to the downtown area. More than any parade, memorial event, book sale, or Expo for the Senses - probably put together in one year. Folks visit the Farmers Market, Balfour Riverwalk Park, the YMCA and the Library when it was open. And some councilors want to resrtict parking in a municipal lot. Please! Do a Google search of Haymarket and you will see it comes up on page 2. It's been in existence since 1830. Google AFM and it's the first listing. Haymarket is not even on the top 20 of Farmers Markets in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Dolly April 02, 2012 at 08:56 AM
"Safety had been a problem," she said. "This is much more workable." says one APL Trustee. I find this laughable. I'll put money that this person never went to Farmers Market. Check the Police log - no accidents or injuries. BS.
John Gafford April 03, 2012 at 12:18 AM
If the Library was smart...they would jump on the band wagon ..and Put a table out there with old books for sale OR have a bake sale and raise some money for the Library...1400 people attend... if you got...$1 donation from 1/2 the people each week and what do ya kno ..YOU have enough to buy a computer and more books ...COME on Library...Get with the program...I will give you the first $20 ......
Just sayin' April 03, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Yay! I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees this. John - that is a great idea! And if the library can't do it (I just read about union stuff up above) well, can't the Friends of the Library do something? I really think APL thinks they are going to lose out to AFM... but if they would only listen to what folks are saying... we want to support both - and if APL/AFM can coexist we will. I too am only a shopper of the AFM, not a volunteer or vendor.
Just sayin' April 03, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Steve, I think you overestimate some of us. :) Personally, I'm not some left-wing, vegan, raw food activist. I'm a regular person who wants to eat better, but I'm not going to spend an hour of my day - especially a Saturday in the summer - driving back and forth to a farmers market should we lose AFM - and this police detail looks to be a deal-breaker. Driving by this lot is part of my established weekend routine. I know city hall is just a few blocks away, but for me at least it becomes out of my way.
Bonnie Kavanagh April 03, 2012 at 09:32 AM
I was a vendor at this market last summer. It was a great market by vendor standards. Well organized, plenty of customers. Really nice people buying local produce and artisan products supporting the LOCAL farmers and artisans. NOT supporting corporate food chains where the average head of lettuce has traveled more than 1800 miles before it gets to your salad dish. That's right. From the time it's picked in California or Florida, shipped to a processor and then shipped to a distributor before it reaches the store you purchase it in it will have averaged 1800 miles. Talk about a carbon footprint. And for every dollar spent only 15 cents actually goes back to the farmer who grew the food. The vending fee at the Attleboro Farmer's Market could be raised a bit as it is the lowest around. Even so, it really isn't necessary to have a police officer on duty. I do a lot of markets and rarely have I seen law enforcement necessary. In fact, these farmer's markets tend to bring communities together...like the old days when people who lived in a town actually knew one another. AND when they actually got along. I hope this works out for the farmer's and for the people that worked so hard to organize it. It was really nice to see some positive energy in Attleboro for a change. Bonnie Kavanagh
Karen Wall April 03, 2012 at 11:13 AM
We at the Killingly Public Library host a sizable market on Saturdays from June through October in our lot. No cops, no problems, we love each other, and we consider it a mutually beneficial arrangement (we are open on Saturdays at the library). Libraries and farmers markets seem to go well together...same patrons. Help each other, will ya?
Reason April 04, 2012 at 08:33 AM
Three hours and 15 votes sealed the fate of the farmers market. When city leaders wonder why more people are not visiting downtown Attleboro they have only themselves to blame. http://www.thesunchronicle.com/articles/2012/04/04/news/11288119.txt
Just sayin' April 04, 2012 at 10:05 AM
"Councilors who voted to rein in the expanding and busy market did so mainly over public safety worries. Denlea and Councilors Peter Blais and Sara Lynn Reynolds were the most outspoken on those issues." I'm speechless, but I do vote.
concernedcitizen April 05, 2012 at 03:42 PM
I also vote. I have no dog in this fight other than to see businesses and foot traffic attracted to our downtown once again. This decision has helped me realize who I will be vocally campaigning AGAINST during the next election. I have the feeling these outspoken councilors have spoken themselves out of an elected position. Great job guys!
Henry April 05, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Karen, do you have a web site or pictures of this happy co-existance you can share with us folks in Attleboro that can't figure this out?
Steve Hopkins April 05, 2012 at 11:45 PM
what are the expenses that amount to $3850.00? What is the parking situation around /near the city hall area? are there parking restrictions that could be eased during the hours of the AFM? are there area businesses that could allow AFM patrons to park on their property while at the famers market? If the lot itself is larger than the lot on N Main then why is there not enough parking? Perhaps some people just don't want to walk a half block or so from where they have to park??!!
Steve Hopkins April 05, 2012 at 11:49 PM
So - is there a reply to this from the library board?? Let's see it - hear it!
Dolly May 09, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Is this Killingly CT?
Dolly May 09, 2012 at 01:59 AM
There are no businesses on Pine Street except for a bar/lounge and an auto repair shop two or three block away. On North Main Street there is the Library, The Literacy Center, The YMCA, Balfour Riverwalk Park, New England Tire, Eastern Supply, Ryan's and Sons, Tex Barry's, Hong Kong Treasures, Attleboro Jewelry Makers.....and more. Retail (including Farmers Markets) prefers high traffic areas. I think that what AFM is all about.

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