Mitchell Park a ‘no’ for farmers market

04/21/2011 6:02 AM |

The Village Board appears poised to turn down two requests for use of Mitchell Park — one for a Saturday morning farmers market and the other from Sts. Anargyroi and Taxiarhis Greek Orthodox Church for a festival on July 16 and 17.

A vote is expected Monday night.

Mayor David Nyce said at a work session on Monday that both applicants should find other venues in the village.

“Mitchell Park is not the best venue for this,” Mr. Nyce said of the Greenport Farmers’ Market, whose organizers had proposed to run it in the park on Saturdays, May 28 through Oct. 15, from 8 a.m. to noon.

The mayor suggested that the farmers market operate in the village’s Adams Street parking lot just east of where Danny Latham operates a farm stand, which sits on private property across from the IGA supermarket. Although the mayor said Mr. Latham had no problem with the idea, the longtime farmer said he wanted to talk with Mr. Nyce about it for longer than the 15-second chat he said they’d had after an April 8 special Village Board meeting on the market proposal.

Mr. Latham said in a phone interview that he had spent 16 years building up his farm stand and had turned down an invitation from Greenport Farmers’ Market organizers to be one of their vendors.

Mr. Nyce said that, wherever the market ends up, he would ask Greenport Business Improvement District members to work with the organizers to vet potential vendors. The aim would be to work out any conflicts that might arise between vendors and established local merchants.

“We should be trying to help local farmers,” but it shouldn’t come at the cost of hurting merchants, Mr. Nyce said.

BID president Mike Acebo was unavailable for comment the mayor’s idea.

Trustee Chris Kempner said merchants had told her they “feared retribution” from two farmers market principals — Lara McNeil and Eileen Rich — if they didn’t contribute money to support the market. Ms. McNeil chairs the village Planning Board and Ms. Rich is a Planning Board member.

“I feel like that comment was unfounded and disrespectful to my volunteer service on the Planning Board,” Ms. McNeil commented in a phone interview.

Despite what she called her disappointment at not being able to use Mitchell Park, she said the farmers market concept was “important” and if moving it to another venue was what would take to get it up and running, she would cooperate.

“We certainly don’t want to cause any disruption in the village,” Ms. McNeil said.

The Rev. Gerasimos Ballas of the Greek church was less sanguine about not using Mitchell Park for his event. Pedestrian traffic downtown is important to the festival, he said. He added that he wouldn’t try to move the event back to church grounds near Steamboat Corner because he agreed with Trustee Mary Bess Phillips and others who raised questions about safety and noise at the church during last summer’s festival.

Among Mr. Nyce’s concerns was that if the board approved this festival, it would be difficult to say no to other church groups that might make similar requests for Mitchell Park.

“I’m a believer in separation of church and state,” the mayor said. He also said he didn’t want the park used for festivals every weekend.

Trustee Phillips commented, “I want to see them succeed, but once you let them in the park, it sets an example.”

The park wasn’t built for fundraising and commercial activities, Trustee David Murray said. “I don’t want to see any of this in the park,” he said.

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9 Comment

  • What is wrong with having a farmers market at the park, it is not like they will be there all day, thank the Lord they have fresh produce to sell to everyone. We have a new one here in my town coming next week-end and we are thrilled. At least when you buy from your farmers you know your eating safely.When I lived there I remember going to all the farm stands with my grandmother and boy was it a treat to eat local goodies. They need to make a living like everyone else.
    Patricia Long Carey

  • As Village Officials should Lara McNeil and Eileen Rich be conducting this type of business before the Village Board. Does the Village of Greenport have an ethics policy that may prohibit this. Before we put the cart before the horse and the Village does have an ethics policy maybe this should be solved first.

  • It is because these two not for profit volunteers who have serviced the village for many hours and years that they are the perfect candidates to suggest and bring forth such an opportunity as a Farmers Market. Who knows the village better and has more interest in the growth and betterment of the village then someone who contributes so much of themselves for their community?

  • Isn’t it interesting that people with negative hurtful comments tend to hide their identities?

  • a farmers market supports your community, why not let it be held at the park!!! an would other businesses money as well!!! to many politics about everything that goes forth there!!!

  • “At least when you buy from your farmers you know your eating safely”…Patricia Long Carey

    Pro or con about a FM, after the 800lb. gorilla in the room Satar Farm report by the ST ,no one wants to mention the irony here?