04/21/05 — Safety concerns may force farmers market to move

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Safety concerns may force farmers market to move

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on April 21, 2005 1:48 PM

Concerns over safety may force the relocation of the Goldsboro Farmers Market from South Center Street.

The market is scheduled to open in two weeks.

A recent inspection of the farmers' market complex revealed problems with building roofs and sidewalks, officials have said. Repairs could cost as much as $15,000 and could not be finished by the time the market is expected to open May 7.

Downtown officials are hesitant to spend that much on the market, which loses about $3,500 a year.

"We don't believe the means justify the ends," said Julie Thompson, director of the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corporation, which operates the market.

The DGDC board agreed Wednesday to ask the City Council to find a new location for the market. One suggestion will be to open the market on Saturdays along the sidewalks and in the parking lot in front of City Hall. Jimmie Edmundson, the president of the downtown group, will be gathering other suggestions from board members before the council's meeting on May 2.

Some produce vendors said today that they are more concerned about the market's schedule than its location. The market has been open all day Monday through Saturday.

"If we could be out there three or four days a week, that would be fine, but one or two days, it wouldn't be worth it," said the Rev. Sara Morgan.

"I could see Thursday, Friday and Saturday," said Mary Rhoe. "We need at least Friday and Saturday."

The city opened the farmers market in the late 1980s as a way to attract people downtown, Mrs. Thompson said Wednesday. The DGDC handles all administrative duties, which include arranging for vendors and handling contracts, ordering supplies and advertising.

In all, the market costs more than $5,000 a year to run. Vendors pay $50 a month for their spaces. Total revenues are around $1,500 a year.

The DGDC has been aware of some safety problems at the market since 2001, Mrs. Thompson said. She recommended the city abandon the complex and instead allow the farmers to sell in front of City Hall on Saturdays. They could set up tables or sell out of the back of trucks, she said. The city wouldn't charge rent, but vendors would need to apply for a seasonal permit "to keep it from being a big flea market out there," she said.

The location near City Hall would also attract traffic from Ash Street, which could also benefit other downtown businesses, she added.

But some board members worried that a one-day market would hurt vendors who depend on the income.

"I'd hate to pull the rug out from under people's feet," Geoff Hulse said.

The board discussed some other options but didn't reach any conclusions. Edmundson said he would welcome other suggestions before passing the recommendation on to the City Council.