Farmers Market Receives Season Extension, New Time
Board of Selectmen made approval at Monday meeting.
The old expression goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The Wilmington Farmers Market certainly wasn’t broken. But the group received a pair of fixes it expects will boost business even more in its second year following a successful opening summer.
Board of Selectmen members unanimously approved an extended season and earlier start time at Monday night’s meeting.
With the change, the market will begin on June 17 and run until September 30, rather than closing for the year at the end of August as was the case in 2011.
In addition, the hours of the market will be 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. instead of beginning later in the day as was previously the case.
“My inclination is to handle it in a similar way that we did last year,” said selectman Michael Newhouse. “We wanted to give the group the chance to do what they thought would be successful and have a wait and see approach as to prospective problems that may come up. I’m inclined to approve with the understanding that if there’s a conflict, we’ll take a look at it next year. I want to work with this group within reason and I hope it’s successful going forward.”
Farmers Market president Dana Burnham told selectmen that there were several reasons for the requests. The longer season gives vendors the chance to offer fall produce items that weren’t available last year.
When the market began in the afternoon, there was a rush beginning before the opening bell as customers lined up. Then, by the last hour of business, vendors were often allowed to leave early with no customers remaining on the grounds.
“Last year we had people getting out of church services come over while we were setting up, but they couldn’t wait around for a half hour until we were open,” said Burnham. “We want be able to capture those people as well with the earlier start time.”
The one potential snag voiced by board members revolved around just that. With church services releasing at the same time as the market, there is potential for heavier traffic.
“The only concern I would have is relative to traffic,” said Town Manager Michael Caira. “The condition put in place could be that if it turns out there is a traffic issue, we would ask the Farmers Market to address it, and that may be to hire someone from the police department. I’m thinking we could probably handle any issues like that, but that is the only point I would make.”
Caira added that he spoke with Police Chief Michael Begonis, who said it’s difficult to predict precisely what issues may arise. But overall, Begonis said he believes his department could handle the changes without issue.
Also on the agenda at Monday’s meeting was discussion about the non-petitioned warrant articles for the upcoming Annual Town Meeting.
During the discussion, Caira revealed that the town is on schedule to save a significant amount of money that had been slated for snow removal. There is snow in the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, but that should still remain the case.
The town budgeted $547,000 for snow removal, and as of Monday had spent only about $200,000. Anything left over can potentially be used to fund items on this year’s warrant.
“If we only have a couple of storms, that’ll be some money we have left over,” said Caira. “We also have a surplus of sand and salt that we anticipated using early on. What we don’t use this year can be used next year, which saves the town money as well.”