NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WHAS11) – There’s a debate over the farmer’s market in New Albany. A bid to expand and improve the market have come in way over budget, leaving the council looking at some unusual alternatives.
It all started when the farmer’s market organizers asked for a big chunk of money in the city’s budget to improve the Saturday market. Now, vendors and some council members are at odds about how to move forward.
The market in downtown New Albany has been growing and thriving for years. Organizers asked for money to build a U-shaped pavilion that could make it a little more convenient for vendors to set up.
The city allotted $275,000 in the budget, but the first bid for the project came in at about $340,000. A large chunk of that would go just for leveling the area to make it more handicap accessible and setting up plumbing for restrooms.
Now, some council members are re-thinking the project all together. Especially considering the fire department is in desperate need of an aerial ladder truck.
Councilman Dan Coffey said, “Now, we spend $300,000 over there and then we the people over at the high rise, ‘Hey, we have a fire! We’re sorry, but come to our farmer’s market.’”
At one point, it was suggested by a council member that an alternative to building a new pavilion would be to move the market into a parking garage, which is what sparked much of the outrage in the vendors in attendance.
“I’d love to see it continue just the way it is,” said one woman, “I don’t think it will be appealing to go to the farmer’s market if it’s in the parking garage. My own kids, in asking them about that this afternoon said, ‘Mom, I can’t imagine a farmer’s market in a parking garage!’ They did not think it was a good idea.”
But, that’s all it was, just an idea. For now, the council has decided to table the issue and study their options. The plan is to schedule a public hearing to keep the communication going.
The big issue for several council members centered on a concern that taking on projects like this, while great, could stretch the budget too far, potentially landing the city back in financial ruin.