Kenbridge farmers want to keep market where it is

Published 11:22 am Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Kenbridge farmers said they like the market where it is but would like a few improvements to the lot, Mayor Emory Hodges said. The farmers asked that finer gravel be used to make it easier for people to work, Hodges said at the town council’s April meeting.

The Kenbridge council has said it would like to increase the attraction of the farmers market and, consequently, considered changes to its site and operation — including relocating it to an uptown building or lot.

The town has also been looking for a way to save the old gym and in March — hoping to address two issues at once — said they would apply for funds to turn it into a farmers market.

Located near the town offices on East 5th Avenue and next door to the gymnasium, the farmers market runs from the first Saturday in June through the last Saturday in October — rain or shine, no matter what — from 8:30 a.m. until noon, the town’s website notes.

Vendors pay either $5 per day or $50 per year to rent a 10 x 10 space.

They are responsible for providing tables, equipment, shelter and displays for their merchandise, and any signs must pertain to the vendor’s item and must be located within vendor’s space, the website notes.

In the meantime, the council has been desperately trying to save the community gym, which council members note has a special place in Kenbridge history because, Hodges said, it “was used by practically everybody who grew up in this town.”

Council doesn’t want to give up on the building, but has grown increasingly frustrated as it sits vacant and decaying.

Town Manager Robyn Fowler said people have called “here and there” to rent it.

Hodges said he could envision it housing a fitness club or even a basketball summer camp.

“If we were in a more populated area a building like this could generate revenue,” he said.

In March, Hodges said., “We should give it a couple more shots, look at finding some grant money; and if we can’t do anything with it, maybe look at option B, which might be demolish it.”

Then last month, council member Ken Blackburn said the town might have to consider another option.

“I’m not ready to do this, but at some place we might put it on the market and see if it sales,” he said.

Hodges noted selling town property might be harder than they think, and even if it can be sold the town would still have to be careful who it is sold to.