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Farmers' Market Dealt a Setback

The Coventry Regional Farmers' Market is now considering moving out of Coventry.

 

The board of directors of the Coventry Regional Farmer’s Market is mulling offers to move the popular market out of Coventry following another setback Monday to a plan to move the market from the Nathan Hale Homestead site that has been its home for the past four years.

Winter Caplanson, executive director of the farmer’s market, said this morning the board will meet later this week to review the offers and possibly make a decision on whether to move the market to another town.

Caplanson declined to disclose the location of the other sites that are under consideration.

The board is racing against time to find a new home so it can send out applications to the hundreds of vendors who take part in the regional farmers’ market, which operates every Sunday between May and October and draws tens of thousands from across the state.

The board’s move follows a decision Monday night by Coventry’s Planning and Zoning Commission to again delay a decision on whether to allow the market to move to a new site at 307 Spring St. The commission is under a deadline to make the decision within the next week and asked the market’s leaders last night for a 35-day extension to continue reviewing the plan. The market, however, refused to grant that request, arguing it also is running out of time to find a new home.

The PZC now has only until next week to make a decision.

Caplanson on Monday afternoon had said the market’s leaders anticipated and needed a decision by the commission last night in order to move forward with the plan and get vendors lined up in time to open this year.

The market must find a new home because it was unable to reach an agreement with the owner of the Hale Homestead site, Connecticut Landmarks, to remain at that site. Caplanson said negotiations on a new agreement broke down in part because Connecticut Landmarks wanted to increase the market’s rent threefold, a cost the nonprofit market, run by volunteers, could not afford.

Connecticut Landmark officials declined to comment on the impasse.

The Coventry PZC opted not to vote on the market’s request to move to Spring Street after some members expressed concern about the project’s potential impact on traffic and questioned whether the town should undertake a traffic study.

Caplanson today expressed frustration with the delays and with the ongoing obstacles to opening the market for the coming season.

“We did not make progress last night. The P&Z had voted at the December hearing NOT to require a traffic study from us,” Caplanson said in an email. “Nearly a month has since passed... and in that time, based on the fact that they went on the record as NOT wanting a traffic study, we did not conduct one... yet this was the single issue that remained unresolved last night.

“In the past few days, the market has received a couple of very solid offers for the use of parcels of land in nearby towns that already are permitted to and capable of hosting large events. My Board has asked me to get some more details about them and we plan to meet later in the week to review these proposals to determine if they would like to schedule a meeting and site visit with either or both groups that have extended offers.”

She also said the board has set a “drop dead date” of Jan. 31 to determine whether the market will open this year.

“If we do not have an agreement for a location in place by then, we will announce that the summer market season will be forgone.”

Marc Rapanault January 10, 2012 at 05:16 PM
This is a real shame. We drive from Wallingford every Sunday during the Summer and Winter markets. The CRFM is one of the most dynamic in New England if not the country. It provides CT residents with some of the finest locally grown organic foods available. Getting to know the farmers who grow your food is a wonderful education. What a loss this would be.
chante drasdis January 10, 2012 at 07:59 PM
This is a real setback. The Coventry farmers market was a great example of supporting local industry and agriculture.
Nicole Drasdis January 11, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Please say it isn't so!! We so love going every Sunday!
Gina Block January 11, 2012 at 02:42 PM
It would be tragic if one of Connecticut's best farmer's markets would cease to exist. Please help Coventry Farmer's Market by taking 15 seconds to sign this petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/save-the-coventry-regional-farmers-market

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