FARMINGTON — The Sandy River Farmers Market is open again in the Front Street parking lot next to the Better Living Center but there’s a problem … parked vehicles, market manager Andrew Marble told selectmen Tuesday.
Marble’s efforts to keep the market successful for participants led him to the board to seek approval for the market to potentially move into Meetinghouse Park on Main Street on Tuesdays and Fridays. The board approved the use on a trial basis, realizing that bringing more people into the downtown area could be a good thing.
“I wanted to cover my bases and not give the farmers false hope,” he said of his appeal to the board first. “It doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll use the park.”
He wanted town approval before presenting the idea to them, he said. A move is also based on whether the parking situation improves after the University of Maine at Farmington graduation this weekend and students in downtown apartments leave for the summer, he said.
The lot has been full of vehicles while the market is open from 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays. It was a struggle last year but parking is even more of an issue this year, he said.
While still early in the season, the few market participants were pushed to the back of the lot Tuesday afternoon, a mostly dirt section highlighted with “potholes and puddles during rain,” Marble said. It also makes the market, which can include up to 15 vendors, cramped and less visible from the road.
The parking lot, a subject already addressed by the board Tuesday with owner Greg Roux who proposed the town purchase the leased lot, has been used by the market for a long time but “we need to do something and explore options,” Marble said.
Parking around the park was one concern voiced by some selectmen.
“The market could bring business to downtown but parking is an issue,” Selectman Jon Bubier said.
The board stipulated that Marble work with Steve Shible, Parks and Recreation director, provide liability insurance and leave no trash or litter.
The market would leave a dusty, dirty, windy, hot lot in the summer for the grass, paved walkways and shade found in the Main Street park, noted Selectman Nancy Porter.
A second market, the Farmington Farmers Market, is also held Saturday mornings in the parking lot of the District Court building next to the park, Marble said.