Also, council to hold hearings on Verizon, signs

By Jeff Simms

The Beacon Farmers’ Market will open on Sunday, May 5, at the Veterans Place site it has occupied since 2017, but only temporarily.

On June 2, the market — unable to convince the Beacon City Council to renew its one-year lease at the site — will relocate to the Department of Motor Vehicles parking lot at 223 Main St., about six blocks away.

The move will be the market’s third in four years, and that upheaval may confuse casual customers, market organizers argued during the City Council’s April 29 meeting.

The Beacon Farmers’ Market will move to a new location this year. (Photo provided)

The market was originally located at Veterans Place before moving to the Beacon waterfront in 2002. After becoming a project of the nonprofit Common Ground Farm, the market in 2017 returned to the Veterans Place block near Main Street and the post office. That allowed more people access, organizers said, and vendor sales increased 35 percent, with almost three times the number of low-income residents receiving discounted produce.

Yet even three years after moving, the market is still “getting people looking for us at the waterfront,” said Paloma Wake, who manages the market for Common Ground. Another move would confuse the customers who have now grown accustomed to the Veterans Place location, she said.

Some nearby business owners, notably Phil Ciganer of the Towne Crier Cafe, say the market, which is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays from May 5 to Nov. 24, disrupts their operations by creating excessive noise, blocking parking spaces and selling products other than farm-grown food.

“I’ve shown up at work at 10 in the morning and I can’t find a parking spot,” said Ciganer, who voiced similar concerns a year ago when the market renewed its lease with the city. He noted that bands playing the Towne Crier have had trouble loading equipment into the venue when its side entrance has been blocked.

Some nearby merchants complained that the market’s current location causes problems. (Photo provided)

In the winter, the market moves indoors to the Memorial Hall building at 413 Main St.

Market organizers sparred briefly with the council during the April 29 meeting, calling the move to the Dutchess County lot “abrupt and uncomfortable” for vendors and customers. But Mayor Randy Casale said Common Ground staff had dragged their feet after being notified that the change was imminent.

“The market knew it had a lease for one year,” he said. “They knew the lease had to be renewed. It was your due diligence to come and get your lease done. It’s not on us.”

The City Council will vote on Monday, May 6, to confirm the farmers’ market’s move for the upcoming season.

Public hearings

The council will hold a public hearing on Monday to discuss a request from Verizon to install a 52-foot wooden utility pole with a panel antenna on private property at 110 Howland Ave.

Verizon submitted an application last year to lease about 100 square feet on the property to erect the wireless antenna, but the company cannot proceed without a special-use permit from the City Council.

The council has received highly disparate feedback on the proposal, including from consultants who’ve said the tower would safely address a gap in wireless coverage, and from residents who claim it will emit dangerous radio frequencies. The Beacon Planning Board has recommended the company construct a 6-foot fence around the facility and plant evergreens to hide the tower.

The Dutchess County Planning Board, in its review, suggested moving the tower to the east, closer to the Mount Beacon tree line.

A second public hearing will be held to discuss a recrafted sign ordinance that dates to last year, when city attorneys suggested Beacon’s regulations were unconstitutional.

Since then, the council has debated numerous revisions, at times dissecting the drafts line by line. Council Member Lee Kyriacou has suggested adopting regulations that match the city’s zoning districts — historic, Main Street, residential, and “everything else.”

The most recent draft of the law was expected to be posted to today (May 3).

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Simms has covered Beacon for The Current since 2015. He studied journalism at Appalachian State University and has reported for newspapers in North Carolina and Maryland. Location: Beacon. Languages: English. Area of expertise: Beacon politics

4 replies on “Beacon Farmers’ Market Must Move Again”

  1. It seems to be a lot of crying from the Towne Crier, who, when he first moved in, had his City Council move Frankie’s Hot Dog wagon away from a corner he was at for more than 25 years, saying it interfered with his business. It did not.

    When he was not allowed to sell hard liquor because it was too close to the mosque, he got his City Council to help convince the Liquor Authority to approve him.

    I wonder how long will it will be before the developer down by the DMV building gets their City Council to not allow the market there, as it will interfere with the developer’s plan of taking over the whole parking lot so they can construct more buildings with no parking.

    The mayor talks about the Farmers’ Market knew the lease had to be done and used that lame excuse to deny them the license. I guess he’s used to the developers’ high-priced lawyers showing up with paperwork all in order and ready to go.

    What were these market people thinking? The nerve of them.

    1. Here is our coverage of the Towne Crier moving onto Main Street in 2013. At the time, owner Phil Ciganer said: “There is no opposition from [the mosque]. Even before I made a decision to move here, I met with the imam to let him know what my thinking was.”

  2. It seems to me that Mayor Casale wanted the market moved. His comment about Common Ground staff’s need for “due diligence” in getting the lease signed only points to his eagerness to do so.

    He certainly could have arranged for Common Ground to re-lease the space. The market near the Towne Crier is a big draw for local businesses as well as its vendors. I fear that moving it will clearly confuse people and decrease its attendance.

    I also wonder about Mr. Ciganer’s comment about not being able to find a parking spot. I visit the market often and always found a spot without difficulty, regardless of the time of day. I do understand the issues for musicians with unloading equipment for a Sunday concert. Perhaps a portion of the parking lot can be allocated for just such a circumstance.

  3. The optics here are not good. Music, commerce, and culture are indispensable for a community to be viable. But food, healthy food, is critical. There should be no conflict.

    The farmer’s market is only open for a single day each week, for about five hours, in an excellent location, perhaps the one best suited for its purpose – ON STREET, at Veterans Place.

    If anything, it is automobiles, and the parking thereof, which ought to be rationed, restricted, and finally, if necessary, sacrificed, and options involving alternative forms of transportation urgently need to be developed. And for so many reasons, which should by now be well understood most everyone, I will not itemize them here.

    The conflicts, as they have somehow been allowed to fester, between the two operations, is, in part, a logical and predictable result of the economic growth, enjoyed by many (but not all!) within and around the city of Beacon over the past many years. But unrestrained and under-planned growth often has its limits, resulting in disputes of this sort. This is just one example, of many, ongoing and developing disputes, which are increasingly in danger of splintering, or perhaps re-splintering the city and its communities into warring factions.

    There is an urgent need to understand the legitimate necessities of others, to discuss, to conference, and to compromise. Frankly I don’t see this happening today. I see secrecy, exaggerations, demands, ultimatums, intransigence, blindness. It might be helpful to consider: what would Pete Seeger do?

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