Monday, January 28, 2008

Farmer's Market Moves in a New Direction

Elizabeth Delon

Stories are lingering about the Athens Farmers Market moving. Two weeks ago, members of the farmers market staff said the market's location may change from the University Mall parking lot to the Athens Community Center.

Athens Midday story from January 14, 2008
Go to previous story.

Last week, the market's head manager, Sarah Conley said movement would be because University Mall owners Brent Hayes and Tom Parfitt requested rent payments for the use of the mall's parking lot. According to Conley, the market is unable to pay rent and would need to find a new location. Now, the Farmer's market is working closely with the city of Athens and ACEnet, Appalachian Center for Economic Networks, to keep the issue's progress moving in a new direction.

Athens City Council held a meeting last Tuesday to help develop plans for the market's change in location. ACEnet Business Counselor, Leslie Schaller was appointed to draft a grant requesting $18,000 from the state. Schaller says she plans to have the grant completed by the end of this week. She is not sure after the grant is sent to the state. If the grant is accepted, the money would be used to build a pavilion for the city's use. The pavilion would also be the home for the farmers market.

ACEnet will study architectural designs, feasibility and locations for the pavilion. This study should help decide if the community center's parking lot size and general location will be sufficient. If the area is not suitable for the pavilion, other city property will be considered.

Interview with ACEnet Business Counselor, Leslie Schaller

Schaller says there have been many different stories about the change in location because so many parties are involved in the process. Speculations about the move have included the accusation that the University Mall owners are kicking the market out of its current location. But University Mall Co-owner Tom Parfitt says, "We are trying to work out a resolution with the Farmers Market group. We never said they would have to leave, we said they may have to leave."

Interview with University Mall Co-Owner, Tom Pafitt

Parfitt says the mall is working with Athens Farmers Market Treasurer Jack Cantrell to maintain a month-to-month rent agreement. Discussions on the monthly agreement took place Wednesday. Both Parfitt and Cantrell say the market will remain at the current location until research and agrangements are complete.

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