Vergennes finalizes moving farmers’ market to N. Main Street

VERGENNES — The Vergennes Farmers’ Market will officially open this week in and around the north end of the Kennedy Brothers building on North Main Street, an action made possible when on May 23 the Vergennes City Council signed off on the proposal.
The market plans to open this Thursday from 4 to 7:30 p.m. and operate during those hours every Thursday through Oct. 4. The market operated indoors at Kennedy Brothers this past winter.
Farmers’ market organizers needed city permission to operate outdoors there because the final plan for the market setup called for use of land in the city’s right of way.
City Manager Mel Hawley said in an interview a small area of the market also would encroach on property owned by Country Home Products, but the company had given its permission as long as the market did not extend past what was presented on the final plan. Most of the market will be sited on the Kennedy Brothers parking lot.
Hawley said before approving a final proposal that council members wanted to be sure all parties, CHP and Kennedy Brothers owners as well as the city, “are comfortable with” a plan that went through “a number of iterations.”
At the council’s April 25 meeting market organizers Christopher and Sandy Reck told the council they believed better parking and exposure would help the vendors, and that the site also offered rest rooms and the chance to move indoors in case of rain.
They told council members that their experience operating a winter farmers’ market inside the Kennedy Brothers building went well, with up to 100 customers and 12 vendors on Saturdays.
The Recks said music is planned on a regular basis, and the market is talking with Shacksbury Cider, a Kennedy Brothers tenant, about doing joint promotions on Thursday afternoons.
Mayor Michael Daniels said on Wednesday vendors believe the change will be healthy, but he hopes to find a way to attract visitors to the green.
“I’ve talked to some of the people who participate in the farmers’ market, and they’re looking forward to that,” he said. “I think what we need to be looking at now, just because it does take away from Main Street a little bit, is what we could do to still pull residents and citizens back into the park area.”
The council also last week:
•  Signed off on an application for a $30,000 grant for which, if awarded, the city will forward to Mary Johnson Children’s Center. The children’s center will use the money to do an environmental site assessment, development consulting, preliminary design and engineering, and an appraisal of a proposed childcare center on a 1.08-acre lot on Armory Lane. The center would be intended to serve 30 children between 18 months and 5 years old.
Mary Johnson has long eyed Vergennes as an expansion site, and a study conducted a number of years ago identified a need for preschool care in the area. Daniels said some existing local childcare providers are concerned there is not enough demand to support the additional center, but that the planning study should answer that question.
•  Discussed a proposal for a Neighborhood Development Area that was jointly developed by the planning commission and the Vergennes Partnership. Hawley said such development areas are allowed in communities, such as Vergennes, that have Designated Downtowns.
Hawley said residential neighborhoods within a half-mile of downtowns are eligible to become Neighborhood Development Areas, which have benefits for potential development that include a streamlined state permitting process and reduced permitting fees. Because of Vergennes’ size, most of the city’s neighborhoods would be included, with the largest exceptions being the southern ends of South Green and South Maple streets and some properties off New Haven Road.
•  Continued to discuss Daniels’ plan to create a “Senior Council,” which Daniels said at aldermen’s suggestion has become more of a “Community Council.” Plans remain tentative, but Daniels envisions a core of volunteers who could perform a variety of city tasks, including mowing lawns, clearing trails, and preparing paperwork, thus freeing city workers to get more done. Daniels on Wednesday said in June he would hold a “cracker barrel” meeting at the Armory Lane senior center to seek volunteers and input.

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