SOUTH PORTLAND – When South Portland city councilors consider the city’s fledgling – and some say failing – farmers’ market at their April 2 meeting, they may have more on the docket that a request to post an attention-getting sign on Broadway.

Just prior to the council’s March 19 meeting, City Manager Jim Gailey confirmed that a concept in active circulation among councilors involves moving the market out of Thomas Knight Park and closer to Mill Creek Park, where it would set-up shop on a cordoned-off Hinckley Street.

“It’s a conversation among councilors at this point, as it would give the market more visibility,” said Gailey. “At this point, nothing has been presented to me. Whether the sign moves forward, or Hinckley moves forward, I’m just waiting to hear.”

Market leaders were calling on the city to post a 4-by-8-foot sign on Broadway, pointing the way up Waterman Drive to the Thursday afternoon set-up of booths and trailers in Thomas Knight Park.

“If they don’t get a sign that’s at least 4-by-6, they’re not coming back,” said Councilor Rosemarie De Angelis, who championed ordinance changes needed to create the market during her term as mayor. “They are really hanging on by a thread.”

De Angelis said Tuesday that while she’s well aware of the Hinckley Street talk, it is not originating from her quarter. In fact, she said, it has not been so much as floated to the market’s advisory committee, which, being a member, she feels would be the logical first step. Instead, the committee had been working on a proposal to bring the market off the cobblestoned area of Thomas Knight Park and out onto Waterman Drive.

Like the Hinckley proposal, Waterman Drive would need to be closed during the late-Thursday afternoon hours of the market. However, while she says she bows to no one in seeking visibility for the market, De Angelis said the Hinckley plan was vetted and dismissed last year for a number if reasons, including lack of parking, undo disruption to traffic flow, a desire to get the market deeper into Knightville and a fear of over-aggressive ducks from Mill Creek Pond invading the food booths.

“I’m not convinced that location is the best,” said De Angelis. “But my bigger concern is that absolutely nothing’s been officially presented. I don’t even know where these discussions are taking place.”

De Angelis even suggested that the rumored talk could be violation of Maine’s Freedom of Access Act laws, since it could be seen as an attempt to discuss council business outside of a public meeting.

“If there’s going to be consideration of another location, it seems to me that that’s something that ought to be workshopped, before people start trying to line up votes,” she said.

Gailey said he doesn’t think any talk now making the rounds rises to the level of illegal action.

“They’ve had enough training around that, they know better,” he said.

Still, wherever the matter is being debated, it does appear the next regular council meeting could include concepts for the farmers’ market not currently on the table, even for the farmers themselves.

“All I can really say is there’s actually some continuing conversation going on with the farmers’ market,” said Councilor Gerard Jalbert, during the round-robin portion of Monday’s council meeting. “There might be a resolution where the farmers feel better, but we don’t know yet, there’s still along way to go.”

In recent meetings Jalbert has been the most critical among the seven-member council of the Broadway sign request. De Angelis did lobby the public on the Knightville/ Mill Creek Facebook page, asking supporters of the market to contact Jalbert and others on the council who seemed opposed the upcoming sign vote. On Monday, Jalbert acknowledged “all the various communications” he’s since received.


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