We Will Do It Our Way: Farmers Market Hits the Deck

...Parking deck that is. Honestly, when I first heard we had hired a consulting firm to help city and county officials determine an adequate location for a Fayetteville Farmers Market, I knew another dual governmental fiasco was about to begin.

06-18-14-pub-notes.gifWhy?

Well, first of all, both the city and county have a long history of spending taxpayers money on surveys, consultants and studies that end up being either totally ignored or rejected. Why? Because the stated results did not confirm, support or justify their predetermined outcome or they just wanted to create the illusion and appearance of executing proper due diligence.

Two examples come to mind: In Fayetteville there was the Multi-Modal Transit Center. A firm from Charlotte, headed up by former politico Harry Gantt recommended three sites from the many proposed by the city. After a presentation outlining the reasons behind their selection, the city council chose none of them as an option. As a result, it will be built in a highly protested area between Robeson, Russell, Franklin and Winslow streets. The small site will not allow for growth or for the construction proposed by the consultants. Many in the community, including those whose businesses were and will be impacted believe it is an inappropriate site.

Last year, Cumberland County residents in the Cedar Creek area insisted they needed transportation service to downtown Fayetteville. Despite studies and indications that supported otherwise, the county commissioner’s spent $14,000 to prove their point and appease their constituents. It was a needless expenditure. See the point?

Most recently, the county spent $24,000 on a search for a new county manager to replace retiring manager James Martin. Why?

In a matter of weeks, after the money was spent, the commissioners voted unanimously to award the job to Deputy County Manager Amy Cannon who was actively serving as interim county manager. Cannon’s reputation, work ethic and competence has served Cumberland County with distinction for well over two decades making her the obvious choice. I guess a $24,000 CYA is a good deal when your spending other people’s money.

However, I digress. Personally, I was never a fan of locating the Farmers Market in the parking deck. But, then again, I feel its current location at the Transportation Museum is appropriate and complements our downtown community. However, location is only one deterrent to the success of a downtown Farmers Market; a new location will not solve the problem.

For some unknown reason the city and county are trying much too hard to artificially force the success of a Farmers Market on the community while ignoring at least six important points of consideration and reality. Actual need, demand, competition, marketing, advertising and promotion. Six strikes and you’re out! Twice!

In any case, let’s get on with it. We already have more than a dozen “fruit and vegetable” stands effectively serving our community. Half of them are known as “farmer’s markets.” What will distinguish our Farmers Market from the rest is the ability to develop, market, advertise and promote it as a destination point. Otherwise, another great opportunity to enhance our community will be lost. Honestly, this shouldn’t be that hard.

Stay tuned and thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

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