The City of Rome has been operating two farmers markets for years. One in a parking lot across the street from the Berkshire Bank, and one at the Franklin Field on Black River Blvd. The parking lot across the street at the Berkshire Bank is now being developed into a medical office, and the Franklin Park had some issues. There was a lack of off street parking, the grass was too soft for wheelchairs and walkers, and lacked sidewalks.
Positively Rome has combined the 2 markets into one Downtown Market located at the Griffo Green next to City Hall. The move has better parking, better accessibility for handicapped people, and fits in with the resurgence of downtown, but some venders aren’t happy with the new hours of operation planned for the Market.
Amy Conley of Conley Farm tells us there hasn’t been much input between Positively Rome and the venders participating, but she is happy with the idea of a lunch time crowd, parking, and better access to the marketplace. She does think the hours should be a little longer.
Wagner Farms Manager Judith Wagner is saying the same thing, but she has been in contact with the organizers.
"It was just lip service. We’ll talk about it. Thank you for your ideas."
The cut in hours equates to dollars lost for the Wagner Farm. In fact Owner Ronald Wagner believes the loss of income is forcing him to shut down his farm.
"(So what do you do to save the farm at this point?) I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. There’s nothing."
Rome Mayor Jacque Izzo says the Market has adequate hours and it’s intent is not to provide space for a full time business.
"As far as staffing between the City of Rome and Positively Rome in running the market, we think that that’s the market season that we can all commit to and so if there are times that are… if it is less hours, then I would guess that a business might have to look at an alternative to make up hours."
Ronald Wagner has been shut out of other venues and the loss in income will force him to close his farm down by years end.
"I’d just like to thank my customers after 20 years. You know it’s been my pleasure. I thank you. And I don’t know what to do now."
Mayor Izzo did say Positively Rome is planning on extending the hours of operation for the 1st Friday of the season, and that the City would consider extending hours based on interest.