Athens community members met to discuss a possible relocation of the farmers market
Consultants from the nonprofit, Projects for Public and ACENET hosted a workshop to let community members give their input on a design for an updated community center campus which would include the farmers market and dog park.

Athens Community Gives Input on Farmers Market Location

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Athens community members voiced their opinions on a possible new location for the Athens Farmers Market during a workshop Friday morning.

The farmers market is currently located in the parking lot of The Market on State, but ACENET and a nonprofit, Project for Public are working to design an update to the community center campus that would include the farmers market, dog park, and other possible activities.

Tentative plans call for shrinking the dog park behind the Holiday Inn to make this possible.

Community members who attended the workshop heard a presentation about different possibilities for the design, went on a walk around the community center campus to brainstorm improvements, and discussed in small groups ideas and concerns.

Some of the things discussed included walkability and bike-ability, what other activities people would like to have space for, what other uses the spaces created could have, and a sociability goal for the campus.

Consultants for Project for Public said there  isn’t currently a design, but they said this workshop was one of the first steps in getting to that point.

The president of the Athens Farmers Market Executive Committee said the farmers market is a “crown jewel” of Athens and that this relocation could help increase tourism.

“I see this as an opportunity to dust off the jewel, to make it a better farmers market to make it, even a better community hub here. It’s not that things aren’t going well where we are it’s that there are improvements that can be made,” Paul Tomcho, the president of the Athens Farmers Market Executive Committee said.

Tomcho said he gets a lot of customers at his stand at the farmers market from places like Parkersburg, Marietta and Chillicothe. He said they tell him they came for the farmers market, but stay in Athens and go to other local businesses after they hit the market.

Many people at the workshop expressed excitement for the relocation, but many also had concerns.

“Regular attendees are going to go to the market if it’s placed on the moon, it’s part of their Saturday routine. But for the drive-by customer this eliminates that view,” Alan Swank, a resident of the Far East Side Neighborhood said.

During the brainstorming portion of the workshop, many groups discussed increased signage to solve the problem of visibility.

Other concerns included increased noise, traffic and the amount of parking.

The planning phase of the project is funded by a grant from the Department of Agriculture.

The next steps include a feasibility study and if that passes, applying for grants to fund the project.