Viewpoint - April 28, 2010

Letter: City plan would impact Farmers' Market

Back in the 1990s the economy was in the doldrums and the city of Menlo Park decided it needed to do something to revitalize downtown. So, it proposed to build four parking garages in the downtown area. The idea was rejected by the community and downtown businesses.

Soon after this, five women (four of them local residents and one a downtown property owner) approached the Downtown Study Group and the city to ask for permission to create a farmers' market. The idea was to attract shoppers to the downtown area on Sundays, to shop at the Farmers' Market, then stop for a cup of coffee, a pastry, lunch, to buy groceries, visit the stationary store, and so on. In other words, encourage people to shop downtown while they are there for the Farmers' Market. It has worked.

From the very beginning the Menlo Park Live Oak Lions Club has sponsored the Farmers' Market. We were anxious to ensure we did not compete with existing downtown businesses. This is why we have always stayed away from providing food to eat at the market, as well as other perishable foods such as cheeses and breads.

Now the city again wants to expand building downtown, despite many concerns that reducing available convenient parking will hurt existing businesses and particularly the Sunday Farmers' Market. Who wants the covered market? It will clearly impinge on the Farmers' Market by reducing parking space and making it difficult for the farmers to get in and out of the plaza. Also, the covered market would compete with existing businesses. Is that what Menlo Park residents want? I think not.

John Hickson, past president, Menlo Park Live Oak Lions Club, and active Farmers' Market volunteer


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