But first: Shouldn't the city of New Albany take an active interest in learning the value of the current farmers market property as used now, versus what it might generate in future infill construction? Isn't this a fundamental part of the equation in this discussion? Do we know anything about the comparatives?
New Albany Farmers Market on the move? Gonder, Coffey push to move farmers market; DNA organizer not on board, by Daniel Suddeath (N and T)
NEW ALBANY — An alternative proposal to expanding the downtown New Albany Farmers Market is gaining steam, but the lead organizer of the venue doesn’t support the plan.
No kidding. Say, the position of Markmeister is a non-elected office, isn't it?
New Albany City Councilman John Gonder proposed last month moving the market from the corner of Pearl and Market Streets to the downtown parking garage ... the farmers market could open in the garage on Saturday mornings on the first floor of the structure, and a portion of Market Street could close so that vendors could extend out toward the median, Gonder said. The market would occupy about double the space it has now by moving to the garage.
So far, so good. Now comes the part wherein tail commences to vigorously wag dog.
The property is owned by the city, but the farmers market is operated by Develop New Albany, and the lead organizer is Susan Kaempfer. She said Gonder hasn’t contacted her about his proposal, as Kaempfer added the parking garage doesn’t have a bathroom and “isn’t a good fit” for the market.
“It’s our preference that we move forward with the improvements to the existing farmers market and get that done as quickly as possible so we can utilize it,” she said Tuesday.
In other words, Mrs. Baird (perhaps) somehow found room for an appropriation even if numerous council persons don't recall it being discussed, and now this money must be spent immediately lest someone other than DNA lays claim to it. We couldn't have THAT happen, could we?
But Kaempfer said some of (last year's) vendors are being recruited by competing farmers market, and that delaying the project could hamper New Albany’s ability to retain them ... Kaempfer said the farmers market has dramatically helped downtown businesses, and added that some vendors and local business owners likely will attend next week’s council meeting to voice their support for it.
Of course it has helped ... one day a week, mostly in summer, but if the market has been successful in its current format, why would the vendors consider going somewhere else?
Or, put another way: Has our farmers market become sufficiently broken to merit fixing, to the tune of 300K? It's packed now. The question is: In terms of a long-term commitment, is the current site the best possible site? If we're going to do this, why not do it right?
Sadly, all the Marktmeister can do is erect a straw man and mobilize the vendors by telling them that the farmers market is to be heinously squelched by blue meanies. She might tell them the truth, although I'm not holding my breath: There are people sincerely interested in discussing all the options for the market's future vitality and expansion, including those existing beyond Kaempfer's and DNA's solipsistic inner worlds.
Unless the council moves to remove the funding already set aside for the expansion, the New Albany Board of Public Works and Safety could accept the bid and move forward with the project without the council’s approval.
True, and yet another reason why the city needs to be stirred from its present resting place and take a share of this issue back into its possession. It is city property, and it consequently "belongs" to us all. What this looks like at present is a transparent payback to Develop New Albany's self-interested cadres, but the farmers market is far more important than just that, and its future needs to be studied with the city's active, directed participation -- not the strange passivity it has displayed thus far.