By Michael Howell
At a recent Hamilton City Council Committee of the Whole meeting, the owner of some property at the corner of Bedford and 3rd Streets asked the Council to consider moving the Saturday Market to 2nd Street. Property owner John Clawson told the council that he was not against having a farmer’s market, but that he felt his property was suffering abuse under the current arrangement.
Clawson complained to the council about trash being left on his property, broken sprinkler heads in the lawn, damage to his rock landscaping and destruction of shrubbery. He asked the council to consider relocating it to 2nd Street. He said that it would be closer to other businesses and to City Hall and Legion Park.
Laura Craig, manager of the Hamilton Farmer’s Market, told the Council that re-locating was not an option in her mind. She said moving closer to Highway 93 increased safety concerns. She said that the Museum lawn at the corner of 3rd and Bedford was the heart of the Farmer’s Market. She said that moving would be a major ordeal involving about 40 of the 150 vendors at the Market. She said the current venue provided shade and the 2nd Street venue would not.
Craig said that the Farmer’s Market was willing to work with Clawson to address his concerns. She said the Market takes the complaints seriously and is willing to address them.
The Council was of the consensus that it did not want to get in the middle of the dispute and asked the parties to get together and see if they could work something out.
Craig agreed to work with Clawson to resolve his concerns. She proposed instructing vendors to keep their set ups at least two feet from the neighboring property and watch for activity that might impact the property and take action to prevent it. If it happens they would be willing to clean it up and replace any dislodged landscaping rocks. She said they would place ‘keep off the grass’ signs and help enforce it. She also offered to replace existing native shrubbery that had been damaged.
Craig said in a telephone interview she had met with Clawson and that the measures suggested at the council meeting would be implemented and that in a month she would meet again with Clawson to see if the measures taken satisfied his concerns.
In the meantime, the Hamilton Farmer’s Market is also expanding to a Wednesday evening event that would use Bedford Street alone between 2nd and 3rd. One Wednesday Market has already been held.
But on Monday the County Commissioners heard some concerns from its maintenance supervisor about the Wednesday event. Many of the concerns paralleled those of Mr. Clawson including vehicles driving on the property, crushing shrubbery and potentially damaging a sprinkler system at the Youth Court facility. He said with vendors setting up during the afternoon it restricted parking in the area during business hours that affects Youth Court, the Public Health office, WIC and the District Court. It also makes access to those services difficult.
The County does charge the Market about $100 per year for the use of electricity from its facilities and questioned whether it was enough to recover costs. It was agreed that a company currently analyzing power use by the county would look into it and see if the amount of use by the market vendors could be determined.
The consensus among the commissioners was to send a letter to the City of Hamilton and the Farmer’s Market expressing their concerns.
Commission chair J.R. Iman concluded the meeting by saying that in his opinion the Market should look for another venue if it means using the street during business hours. He had no problem with the Saturday market since county businesses are closed on the weekend.