By Michael Howell
Hamilton Mayor Jerry Steele made it very clear right at the beginning of last week’s neighborhood meeting, held to take public comment on the changes in the layout of the road closures for the Hamilton Farmers Market, that the City of Hamilton was in support of the Farmers Market.
“The City is not interested in moving the Farmers Market,” said Steele. “We are simply looking to seek input from local residents about the proposed changes for this summer.”
Due to the reconstruction of American Legion Park, the Farmers Market cannot use 2nd Street north of Bedford as they have in the past. To keep from simply reducing vendor spaces, an alternative was submitted to the City to move vendors west on Bedford and closing 3rd Street at State Street. Steele did say that the City hoped to finish the project by mid-June.
Steele said that Police Chief Ryan Oster had expressed concerns about some of the road closures being requested. He said that the City has received complaints about the Farmers Market in the past and wanted to hear from the residents in the neighborhood that would be affected.
Some complaints were made.
Barbara Liss, a property owner in the area, said that she had an obligation to try and protect her tenants’ parking. She said that she loved the Market, but it needed to be done in a way that doesn’t encroach on people’s parking.
Darcy Mathis said that she, too, loves the Farmers Market. But as a renter in the area of the Market for the last ten years, she said, “It’s a nightmare.”
Mathis said it would be different if it was only a few weekends in the year, but it is every weekend for half a year. She said that she has had to walk two blocks to get to her home during the Market. She has had her parking places taken and her car blocked in and her alley blocked. She has watched her car being bumped by people trying to squeeze into a too small space to park.
“Six months is a long time to have to fight to get in and out of your house,” said Mathis.
Wes Mills, who owns the Bibler Building, said that he was all for the Farmers Market but not for using his driveway as a turnaround.
Judy McCarthy said that she, personally, had no problem with the Farmers Market but in the apartments where she lives there are many elderly and handicapped people that find their parking lots full, leaving them with no space to park.
Several people had no complaints, but simply spoke in favor of the Farmers Market. They emphasized its importance to the local farming economy and to the community and to the downtown.
In the end, Mayor Steele emphasized once again that the City was in support of the Farmers Market and would try to work with it to resolve the specific issues that have been raised by residents in the area.