A market-driven decision

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 14, 2008

Discussions to relocate the farmers’ market from its current Armory Drive location to a downtown site isn’t getting much support, and nor should it.

While the theory that moving the market from the parking lot in front of the National Guard Armory to a new facility sounds like a good theory, those who sell products don’t like the idea one bit.

They have a point, and they should be heard. And on Monday, city council members did listen and tabled the matter until more study and discussion can be held.

Those city officials whose task is to watch for opportunities to improve retail and foot traffic along Main Street and its neighboring roads, jumped on the idea of building a privately-financed market in a vacant lot next to Johnson’s Funeral Home.

Locating a market there was part of the Downtown Flood Recovery Master Plan created after Hurricane Floyd dumped flood waters in downtown businesses and homes. At the time, it was not known whether the area loping around the Blackwater River would be rebuilt.

The Camp Foundations offered the city a grant of $75,000 for the project, which made public officials favor the relocation even more.

Obviously, the retail district has been rebuilt, but it still suffers.

Foot traffic is slow — practically non-existent on weekends. Vehicle traffic is even slower.

On Armory Drive, on the other hand, cars and trucks make a steady stream of potential customers. Residents of apartment near the market’s current site make the short walk to spend their money at the current site.

It’s no wonder those who sell at the Armory Drive site prefer to stay where the customers are.