Farmers Market relocation raises concern
Proposed closing of Main Street draws opposition from some businesses
NASHUA – A petition started circulating over the weekend in opposition to the newly proposed relocation of the Nashua’s Farmers Market.
While the majority of online poll participants are in favor of the proposal to host the Nashua Farmers Market on a closed section of Main Street, from Temple to Pearl streets, others have
Terry Wade, owner of City Room Cafe, is one of those who are concerned about closing down Main Street for the Farmers Market and, in an effort to protect her business, employees and customers, started the petition in opposition to the
“As this came to light, I did go through my sales, and every time they have an event when they close streets down on a weekend, I take a hit,” Wade said. “It could be 5 percent to 15 percent.”
So far, more than 500 Nashua residents have voiced their thoughts on the idea, answering the Great American Downtown online poll. As it is, 85 percent have indicated a favorable view of the move, with many indicating that the new location would result in them visiting the market more often, and being more likely to visit nearby shops during their visit. GAD will continue gathering feedback from the community through Friday, before coming to a conclusion on the next steps for the growing market.
Paul Shea, executive director of GAD said, “As we continue to seek feedback on the proposal to move the Nashua Farmers Market to Main Street, the overwhelming majority of input has indicated a positive view of the concept.”
Wade is concerned for her Sunday customers being able to find parking to come in and have breakfast.
“I’ve seen events where they throw traffic down here (W. Pearl Street) and it becomes a parking lot,” Wade said, adding that, “Parking is going to be limited, and even if it’s available it’ll be a mess to find it.”
For Wade, her W. Pearl Street business’s biggest day of the week is Sunday, where she’s open 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., or prime Farmer’s Market times.
She said by operating during all her hours it will make it difficult for her Sunday customers to get to her restaurant. Being a breakfast place, she’s concerned with sustaining the customers she’s built up over the past 12-plus years since she become the owner.
Realizing there’s few businesses in that area open Sunday mornings, Wade said, “The first I heard of this was through a customer. Sunday is my biggest day, and I can’t tell you how many customers come regularly every Sunday for breakfast,” Wade said. “We get new people all the time, too, but the new people aren’t going to come if they can’t get to it or park around it.”
She said it will make it difficult for their regular customers to find parking.
“All anyone keeps saying is, think of the potential new customers. But, the only people walking up and down the streets are those who had to park somewhere else,” Wade said.
Since she started the petition Saturday, she’s received around 100 signatures.
“It also bothers me that when I asked if they were going to reach out to residents, I didn’t mean residents of Nashua. I meant residents of W. Pearl Street,” Wade said.
At the end of the day Sunday, she had counted 82 signatures, and neither her nor any of her employees have signed it yet. Those signing her petition either do business or live on W. Pearl Street.
“That, to me, are the people it’s impacting with this, and I think it needs to be brought to attention that there is quite an impact, whether it be parking, traffic jams, emergency services … it’s going to make an impact,” Wade said.
However, those in favor see the impact made from this relocation as being a positive one. Some business owners have voiced their support of the idea, including Linda Lagan of Graffiti Paintbar, Kami Harris and Danielle Skelley of Camaraderie, Dave Grebowski of Fay’s Fine Cabinetry and Jessica Depontbriand of JaJaBelle’s.
While those four businesses support this idea, Wade said if they want it to grow, and it’s a problem where it is now, to then look for a more conducive space where there’s plenty of parking available, and kind of be your own entity.
Despite some talk revolving around the idea of hosting the market at Holman Stadium, GAD is not currently entertaining that as a location for the market. One of the core objectives of the Nashua Farmers Market is to serve the needs of “low income,” “low supermarket” or “food desert” census tracts, per USDA definitions. Moving to Holman Stadium would add nearly a mile walk for some customers who travel by foot, wheelchair or mobility scooter from within the Tree Streets and Millyard neighborhoods.
In a statement, Grebowski said, “The Nashua market has struggled in comparison to other area markets due to the limited number of participants that we have been able to accommodate. The new plan should help to put us more on par with other events and create a fun, festival environment to help attract visitors on what are typically uneventful Sundays in Nashua.”
Echoing his thoughts, Lagan said, “I believe this will allow the Farmers Market the opportunity to expand and become a family destination, with more of an artsy, festival vibe, making Downtown Nashua a Sunday destination.”
However, Wade takes issue with the word “festival” that’s been coming up in conversation.
“Is it a festival or farmers market? Are we going to have a street festival every week? I don’t know. As far as being called a farmers market, does it really fall into the parameters of what a farmers market is? I don’t think so, but that’s my opinion,” Wade said. “If you want to make it a festival, then call it a festival.”
Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.