City OKs farmers' market despite concern

 

VERGENNES — Vergennes aldermen at their April 12 meeting approved the city’s farmers’ market request to use the downtown green for another season, but not without some discussion triggered by the proposed inclusion of a pizza maker among the market’s vendors.

City Manager Mel Hawley first raised the issue that such a vendor might conflict with existing downtown eateries.

“I think it’s great the market is bringing life to the green,” Hawley said. “I just want to make sure the market is complementing the businesses, not hurting them. A discussion needs to be held.”

Aldermen generally agreed with his concerns.

Alderman David Austin called allowing vendors to serve hot prepared food “grossly unfair” to food merchants who paid rent or taxes and suffered through the “miserable” cold-weather months that are hard on most Vermont restaurants.

By way of comparison, Middlebury does not allow food vendors on public property downtown, and vendors in the farmers’ market in the privately owned Marble Works may not sell hot prepared food.

The council asked Alderman Randy Ouellette, who was appointed as the council’s contact point with the market, to speak to market organizers about aldermen’s concerns.

In other business, aldermen:

•  Were told by Hawley that public works employee Jim Larrow has been promoted to department head, replacing Carroll O’Connor. O’Connor will retire on May 23, his 70th birthday, after 33 years of service to Vergennes.

•  Listened to and then applauded a speech by Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vergennes Youth of the Year Kaitlin Leroux-Eastman. Leroux-Eastman was set to go to Montpelier last Thursday to compete for the Vermont Youth of the Year title.

•  Heard from Austin that out-of-town business commitments would prevent him from organizing volunteers for the city’s skate park this summer. Aldermen assigned the task to the city’s newly formed recreation committee.

•  Were told by Alderman Joe Klopfenstein, the head of the recreation committee, that committee members would tour the city’s parks and recreation facilities on April 23. The committee will assess needs and make budget recommendations to the council, Klopfenstein said.

•  Heard from Hawley that Vergennes could probably start charging surrounding towns less for using the city’s recycling center, effective July 1, because of reduced tipping fees at the Chittenden County materials recovery facility.

•  Discussed funding promotion of upcoming War of 1812 bicentennial events in the next budget. Both city officials and the Vergennes Partnership have expressed an interest in working with Plattsburgh officials to encourage tourism during 200th anniversary events.

•  Heard from Mayor Michael Daniels that he would like to form a garden club to tend flowers and plants on city property, particularly on the green and at the city’s entrances. Daniels said he hopes volunteers will approach him.

Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.


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