ATHENS — The Athens Farmers Market may be making a move down East State Street to an area currently used as a dog park.
No decision has yet been made, but organizers have long sought a larger, more permanent space. The dog park is being presented as one potential option.
Stakeholders met Friday morning at the nearby Athens Community Center to discuss the possible move. Several cons were noted: the loss of a dog park would be a blow to the residents who live in the area, and there are some scent issues with the wastewater treatment plant which is located just up the bike path.
Leslie Schaller, director of programs at ACEnet, opened the meeting by talking about the current accommodations for the Farmers Market, which meets Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon year-round, and Wednesdays during the fair-weather months from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Market on State.
“We’ve been involved in a partnership since 2004 with the city of Athens and the Athens Farmers Market, and many numerous other stakeholders throughout our community,” she said. “This has been a long journey ... in terms of finding a possible, permanent location for our farmers market.”
She noted that the matter was not intended to be resolved during the Friday workshop.
“In our partnership with USDA funding, we’ve been able to contract with consultants that we’ve worked with in the past,” she said. “It’s going to give everyone in the room the opportunity to share their input as we look at possible redevelopment of the Community Center campus.”
The USDA grant that funds the partnership will “wrap up” near the end of the year, Schaller noted, and the Athens Farmers Market Association with ACEnet have been looking closely at the Community Center campus as the deadline for the funding approaches.
Steve Davies, co-founder of Project for Public Spaces, spoke to the almost 30 attendees about what makes a good public space. He noted the most successful public spaces are safe, comfortable, connected, accessible and most of all, usable.
“We always say that the community is the expert,” he said. “You’re really the expert on this particular space, we’ve just created a framework for you to trust your own judgement and your own intuition.”
During the course of the workshop, participants toured the site and evaluated the grounds, before meeting back in groups to discuss findings and brainstorm ideas to be presented to the other groups.
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Heather Willard is a Messenger Staff Journalist