|With no FSM, where would we buy our cat vests?|
Photo courtesy Thayeravenue.com
The county is pulling a pretty big bait-and-switch here and generally comes off as the villan in this story. They even oddly suggested that they could install a mini golf course on Veterans Plaza in place of the market. I'm all for mini golf, but they couldn't even make that work at an actual golf course, so is that really a practical idea?
At they same time, they do have somewhat of a point. Like every other municipality these days, the county has budget problems. I appreciate their desire to collect the revenue if groups really are lined up to pay these fees, particularly after having invested so much to construct the new Civic Building and accompaying plaza. No one can dispute that $48 is an incredible deal for such a prime location. I don't know what kind of lease the stores along Ellsworth have, but they've got to be paying upwards of $40/sq. ft.
With that said, there has to be a solution that keeps the market in place while allowing other groups to share the Plaza on Saturdays. Why not close off the stretch of Ellsworth between Fenton Street and the entrance to the parking garage as they sometimes do, allocating that area for some of the market vendors? Maybe it wouldn't fit the entirety of the market, but it would certainly free up some space on the plaza. It's not optimal, but the market could conceivably loop around onto that new stretch of road that connects Ellsworth to the Whole Foods lot (though it's a bit of a hill).
I may not purchase something there every week, but the FSM has been a nice addition to downtown and is a good compliment to the farmers market. Hopefully the county and FSM can resolve this in a manner amenable both parties. (Optimally, the solution will somehow involve demolishing City Place.)
For those interested in expressing your support for the market, an online petition has been set up.