CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – Croton farmers market operators are looking for a new day and place to run the weekly seasonal market because of dwindling shopper attendance.
The expiration of a contract with the village opened negotiations with market operators, Down To Earth. However, village officials balked at some of the proposals made by Down To Earth’s owner, at a Monday evening meeting.
"We’re sort of on the cusp of whether this is financially feasible," said Miriam Haas, owner of Down To Earth.
"In response to the loss of vendors, there has been a steady erosion of our customer base. Vendors are wondering if Croton is a community that will support them," said a Down To Earth report given to village officials.
The same report showed waning attendance. In one notable example, 648 shoppers attended the 12th week of the farmers market in 2010 and 258 shoppers attended the market in the same week in 2012.
Attempting to stymie the poor numbers, Haas proposed operating the market on Fridays instead of Wednesdays, operating one hour later and moving the market.
Currently, the summer market is open Wednesdays from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m., May to November in a village-owned lot at the corner of Municipal Place and South Riverside Avenue.
Even if the market operates in the current location on Fridays, village officials balked at adding an extra hour to the market because of the possibility of disrupting parking for summer concerts at Senasqua Park.
Some Village Board Members proposed collecting additional revenue from the market.
Trustee Kevin Davis suggested the market pay more than the current $75 per market day for use of the village's lot at Municipal Place and Riverside Avenue. The village does not otherwise create revenue from the lot. The $1,950 in annual revenue from the market represents 0.03 percent of the village's annual $6,041,361 non-tax revenue.
Haas said Down To Earth can’t afford to give the village more money and continue to operate in Croton. She said some towns and villages don't charge Down To Earth for market spaces.
"Our understanding is that the village wants a farmers market, but if they don't, that's something we need to discuss," said Frankie Rowland, spokesperson for Down To Earth.
"We're really looking to the village to see if there's a way to have a viable farmers market," said Rowland.
Down To Earth first proposed planting the market in the upper village, on Old Post Road South between Grand Street and the entrance to Vassallo Park. This location would cause Old Post Road South to close and police presence would be required. Haas said the village would have to incur the costs, as the market could not support the expense.
Board members expressed concern about the proposal, saying that Old Post Road South is a major thoroughfare in the village.
The second proposed location, on Benedict Boulevard between South Riverside Avenue and Young Avenue, appeared to be a non-starter. A Westchester County bus route runs through the location.