Saturday, October 6, 2007

City Starting From Scratch With The Whole Market Idea

The city has announced that it plans to lease a certain parcel of property to a company called FreshFarm, for the purpose of building an open air market in the heart of downtown.

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The google map suggests that some private properties would be razed, but my guess is that the market will occupy the St. Mary's Street basketball court/playground or the city valet parking area to the left of the Fleet Reserve Club and boat store. The market would only be open on Sundays, so AP doubts it will receive its own permanent structure.

"Hopefully it will be successful" remarked the mayor, optimistic that her new idea for a market will fare better than her old idea for a market, which is failing miserably.

An open air market would probably be a universally accepted good idea if it occupied a vacant space. But, the choice becomes foggier if such a market would exclude existing recreation spaces or parking areas. Ward 1 seems to think the juice is worth the squeeze:

Alderman Richard Israel, D-Ward 1, said he welcomed the market to his ward. It will give his constituents an opportunity to purchase fresh produce and groceries - especially since Ward 1 has no grocery store.

He called the market a "good addition to the community," and said residents often reminisce about the old Market House and the days of it offering a raw bar and fresh meats and grocery items.

Doug Smith, a downtown resident and president of the Ward One Residents Association, said he and many other residents are in full support of the market.

"It will be a great new asset to the community and we can't wait," he said. "It's all been word of mouth that it's coming and near, but the idea is great and we're anxious to see it arrive."

The city does not have a good track record in the market landlord business, but we shall see.

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