The Brunswick downtown farmers market on opening day in May. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

BRUNSWICK — After more than three hours of input from farmers and business owners Tuesday, officials scrapped a plan to move the Brunswick Downtown Farmers Market to Park Row after it became clear, according to councilor Dan Jenkins, that the “pros of the proposed ideas are not outweighing the cons.” 

Instead of moving the market off the mall and making Park Row a one-way street, councilors opted to explore keeping the vendors centrally located and placing the market on the mall’s bisecting sidewalks for one year. This would allow the damaged lawn to be resodded and alleviate some of the pressure on tree roots. It would not have any undue impact on the businesses located along Park Row. 

Town officials will take another look at the situation in the fall and see if they can find a better location that would keep the market downtown — perhaps the site of the soon-to-be-former Brunswick Central Fire Station. A new station is planned for the corner of Webster and Pleasant streets. 

The Brunswick Mall is the site of over 60 events throughout the year. But the mall is being loved to death, according to Parks and Recreation Director Tom Farrell, The ground is covered in ever-growing bare patches of compacted earth, and the weight of the farmers market trucks added to the thousands of people walking on the space damages the roots of trees lining the area, killing them.

The Farmers Market Site Investigation Workgroup, made up of farmers, town staff and community members, suggested moving vendors to Park Row, requiring that the street become one-way. 

At Tuesday’s hearing, Farrell and Public Works Director Jay Astle suggested installing a new, $60,000 sidewalk wrapping around to Maine street, among other measures. The ground will also need to be resodded, which would likely cost around $18,000 per year.

To help cover costs, the council proposed charging the Farmers Market Association $13,500, nearly four times its current $3,500 fee; an increase that would make the Brunswick market one of the most state’s most expensive.

“When I read that … I was flabbergasted,” Wanda Webber Snyder said of the fees. She told the council she hoped the town was not trying to profit off the hard-working farmers. 

“Don’t milk the farmer’s market association,” she said. 

Eileen Hornor, owner of the Brunswick Inn, said she was concerned that making Park Row a one-way street would be bad for business and create confusion.

“I love the trees, the grass and the green scape,” she said, “(but) I hope we’re not going to treat those better than the people who are trying to make a living.” 

Ann Nemrow, who owns the Pumpkin House and the Skolfield-Carney House, agreed and said the people who run businesses out of her properties will lose business if customers can’t park close by. 

“This permanent change is for a seasonal use,” she said.

Money saved by abandoning this proposal could be used to resod the mall several times over, and “moving the market to the cross sidewalks will take the pedestrian traffic and put it on the existing hard surfaces,” Councilor James Mason said. 

The trucks will not be allowed to drive onto the mall to unload, meaning, according to Council Chairman John Perreault, “for the year there’s a little more lugging.” 

“We could make it work for a one-year solution,” said Abby Sadauckas, president of the Brunswick Farmers Market Association. “It will be challenging, but I think it is the way to go.” 

The farmer’s market fee will still likely increase, councilors said, but not by $10,000. The fees and the finer points of the new plan are expected to be ready next month.

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