Could the Saline Farmers Market leave downtown Saline, the library and Liberty School for a permanent home on Bennett Street?
Saline City Council is expected to consider the idea at its work session May 16.
Matt Zahn, who has been pitching the idea of a pavilion on city-owned land across the street from Henne Field, and Market Manager Nancy Crisp are expected to speak on the subject. The Saline Farmers Market is a city-owned enterprise and market manager is part-time employee of the city.
According to a presentation that has been given to Saline City Council, opinions are mixed.
Crisp and three key farmers’ market vendors are opposed to the idea. So is the Saline Area Historical Society, which runs the nearby Depot Museum. The owners of Benny’s Bakery are also opposed to moving the market.
On the other hand, the idea has the support of the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce, the Saline Arts and Culture Committee, 70 percent of the farmers’ market vendors who attended a meeting in Feb. 16, and the owners of downtown businesses, including Mac’s, Brecon Grille, Carrigan Café, Mangiamo Italian Grill and Pineapple House.
Council is being asked to consider a 22 recommendations/suggestions to enhance the market. One idea is to make the market manager a full-time or nearly full-time position. This would be a potentially greater cost to the city, and the report suggests the city should be ready to support the market with revenue, the way Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor and Pittsfield Township support their markets.
The permanent market would be developed in three phases to save money. Nowhere in the publicly available report is there a price tag for the project.
An alternative proposal is to build a permanent structure in the lot that currently houses the market. This proposal would move events like Summerfest and Oktoberfest to Henne Field.
The report lists several pros and cons to investing in a permanent market structure on Bennett Street.
Some of the pros:
- It’s not downtown, where parking is limited.
- Leverages Henne Field as a gateway to downtown.
- Space could be used for other events when not in use.
- Creates a connection between community assets (Henne Field, the Depot Museum, the Depot Trail).
- Minimizes confusion regarding the location of the Farmers Market.
Some of the cons:
- Maintenance costs.
- Potential parking problems during Farmers Market hours.
- Not downtown – Loss of downtown business on Saturday mornings.
- Is the 50,000 square-foot space big enough for future expansion?
(This article has been corrected. It was originally reported that the owner of Brecon Grille was one of the downtown business owners in favor of moving the market. The recommendation city council is considering at Monday's work meeting does list Brecon Grille as one of the businesses in favor of the proposal to move the market. But owner Paul Geragosian said he has been misrepresented. In fact, he supports keeping the market exactly where it is, he said in an email.)