Franklin could use a downtown farmers#8217; market

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 14, 2008

To the Editor:

While sitting in the audience at the Franklin City Council meeting Monday night, I could not help but think of the Kevin Costner baseball movie “Field of Dreams.”

I guess the most famous quote from that film is, “If you build it, they will come,” or something like that. I strongly feel that those who are most opposed to relocating the farmers’ market to downtown cannot identify with the type of dream or vision so vividly captured in that film. Some people always seem opposed to change; change of any kind.

I have visited many farmers’ markets, large and small, throughout the world.

Most are vibrant and alive and full of activity, usually in the early morning hours, and vacant by noon.

The huge market in Rome comes to mind.

Some are in smaller places, neighborhoods if you will, but thriving nonetheless. Several in Buenos Aires and Paris fit that description.

Some are exotic and inviting, such as the spice markets in the Mideast. In any case, the ones with which I am most familiar are all valuable economic and social assets to their communities. We have an opportunity to create just such an asset in Franklin. “If you build it, they will come.”

It seems to me that many of those who are opposed to moving the farmers’ market from its present site at the Armory are not even citizens of Franklin. Of course, neither am I, but I do have a business there, and I support other downtown business owners.

Some have said that many of the present customers walk to the market on Armory Drive. Well, duh, there are probably just as many potential customers in the South High Street and nearby neighborhoods who would walk to the proposed site.

Because the present market’s location is in violation of the zoning regulations, it seems similar, in a way, to the illegal immigration issue: Pretend that no one is breaking the rules, and everything will be all right. How absurd.

Those business owners and farmers who are vendors at the Armory Drive location should have to comply with the rules, the same as those of us who do comply.

We even have to get a business license, and pay the city a portion of our income. I have been told that the farmer vendors do not even have to get a business license.

And one more thing: adding another very nice, attractive, and functional structure in the downtown area, near Barrett’s Landing and adjacent to the train station, would go a long way toward improving the aesthetics along that section of Main Street.

It would, could and should have other secondary uses, such as a venue for art shows, craft shows, youth activities, and other uses from time to time, if available. It could serve as a multi-purpose area, available to users other than farmers. And, if built, it could serve as leverage, a stepping stone, for getting other grant funds to expand and improve that city block in the future.

If I remember correctly, many were skeptical when Nanci Drake suggested building the Pavilion at Barrett’s Landing. But she and Don Cox and others persisted, and now we have a wonderful riverfront park, a setting for many popular events throughout the year; weekly concerts in the summer, sunrise services at Easter, the Patriot concert near July 4th with the Atlantic Fleet Band, and many other fun-filled events. Let’s not stop there. Let’s continue with the vision. Build it, and they will come.

Thank you for allowing me to express my views about the market for the farmers.

Ash Cutchin