The farmers market pavilion erected in the Elm Street parking lot will make its official debut this morning as a new city asset.
The grand opening ceremonies, complete with officials, entertainment and food, will start at 9:30. By the time state Sen. Hugh T. Farley and Assemblyman Marc Butler say a few words and the Durey Creek Band begins to play, the 10 farmers/vendors participating in the market program will have been selling their produce and wares for more than an hour.
Wally Hart, president of the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce, said the 60-by-37-foot structure, built with the help of a $50,000 state grant, is going to be an important multi-use venue for the city and its business district.
“I have to give credit, not only to the city, but to [City Court Judge Vincent] DeSantis,” Hart said.
For three consecutive years, culminating in 2006 with the grant from the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, DeSantis wrote and filed grant applications. After two failures, he said he was ready to downsize his grant request, but was encouraged by Rep. Michael McNulty, D-Green Island, to try again for $50,000 — one fifth of Agriculture and Markets’ entire grant fund that year.
The Business Improvement District contributed another $10,000 and the city’s Department of Public Works provided help on the project, hooking up the pavilion with utility services.
DeSantis and a band of volunteers, led by Habitat for Humanity member Jim Strickland, started building the facility last year and finished it this spring.
DeSantis calls Strickland the brains of the operation. “He was the guy who directed the whole thing … he looked at the blueprints and turned it into a building,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis spoke of the importance of the pavilion to the future vitality of downtown. “Most people didn’t realize its potential when we said we’re going to build a pavilion in the middle of a parking lot,” he said.
Phase II, connecting the pavilion area with North Main Street via a landscaped corridor, may be completed in two years, he said. There may be obstacles to Phase II, including acquiring the privately owned park where the path connects to North Main, but DeSantis said he has learned through this project: “If you’re persistent you really can do it.”
Carol Cownie, market manager of the four-venue Fulton Montgomery Farmers’ Market Association, said she is hopeful any rain in the forecast will hold off until after the market closes at 1 p.m.
Cownie said the Gloversville market, which moved this year from the parking lot at Trail Station Park, is the program’s best location.
The roof provides needed shade and shelter for both the vendors and the customers and creates a pleasant atmosphere. Already this year, with the Gloversville market operating in the pavilion on recent Saturday mornings leading up to today’s grand opening, attendance has been noticeably higher than at Trail Station, she said.
“The farmers are pleased with the turnout,” she said.
While today’s customers may be interested in such events as the cooking demonstration from Pine Brook Golf Club Executive Chef John Lomanto, local farmers are already selling considerable produce, Cownie said.
A variety of greens will be on sale. The market will feature two bread makers, a local gardener who specializes in cut flower arrangements and an Amish craftsman.
The local strawberry crop is running late this year and is not expected by today, Cownie said.
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Categories: Schenectady County