Farmers Market asks tostay on Fairfax Street
Larry Lower, head of the Farmers Market, asked the Bath Town Council at their February 20 meeting to allow the market to remain on the east side of Fairfax Street.
The council had previously asked the Farmers Market to consider other sites due to planned demolition of the courthouse and ongoing construction at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church. Lower said the market had looked at seven sites and narrowed the list down to three: Fairfax Street, east of Washington Street; Fairfax Street, west of Washington Street and Independence Street.
Lower felt the south side of Fairfax Street between Washington and Mercer Streets was still the best location for the market. The Independence Street site was considered too far from the center of town. Shop owners on Fairfax Street, west of Washington Street, had mixed reactions to the market being there.
Lower recommended closing both sides of Fairfax Street, east of Washington Street, on Sundays between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., from May through October.
Mayor Susan Webster asked if Lower had spoken to fire,
rescue, and emergency services. He said the fire department and rescue squad had no problem,
as long as the market put a
low-profile vendor at the corner of Washington and Fairfax streets to allow line of sight around the corner. Morgan County Emergency Services is opposed to any streets closing, he said.
Lower suggested the market be located on the south side of the street. He said the north side would be closed to all traffic except emergency vehicles. He also asked that metered parking spaces on the north side be reserved for vendor parking.
If construction and demolition vehicles blocked Fairfax Street in front of the courthouse, Lower asked council to allow the market to set up on the park side of Fairfax Street west of Washington Street. He said shop owners did not object to the market being there on those occasions.
Police Chief Jim Minton asked Lower to show him exactly where the market would be located. He is concerned about managing traffic if either side of Fairfax Street is completely blocked off.
Council tabled a decision until the next meeting to allow time to review Lower's recommendations.
Lower spoke at length to council about the history and mission of the Farmers Market. He said such markets are growing at a rate of 7% annually. There are currently 4,500 farmers markets across the country, including 35 in West Virginia.
The Berkeley Springs market was established in 2001, with administrative support by the West Virginia University Extension Service and a grant from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. The market also received support from Morgan County and Town of Bath. When the market began, there were only three producers. Last year, that number grew to 18.
The Farmers Market committee is exploring the possibility of opening an additional, small market on Wednesday or Thursday this summer. The market would be located on the park side of west Fairfax Street and would be open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
"The Farmers Market provides fresh food, locally grown and locally produced, for sale locally. The market's motto is