The Niskayuna Town Board is taking steps to ensure the farmers market planned for the Niskayuna Co-op market will operate in the green this summer.
On Tuesday, the board established an 11-member community farmers market committee to set rules and regulations for the market, which is scheduled to debut at the Nott Street site on Saturday, July 13.
About a dozen vendors will sell goods in the co-op’s side parking lot during the morning hours. The July market will be followed by markets on Saturday, Aug. 10 and Saturday, Sept. 14.
The committee includes town Supervisor Yasmine Syed; town Councilwoman Lisa Weber; chairwoman Beth Greenwood; co-op board member Sarah Bilofsky; Jeanne Sosnow of N-CAP (Niskayuna Community Action Program); Elizabeth Paul; Jessica La Fex; Elizabeth Cococcia; Donald Rabig; and Chris Rooney and Sunny Lee, both of the co-op.
The board also heard opinions from the public regarding the market during a public hearing held during Tuesday’s regular meeting.
Lorene Zabin said she is not in favor of a market in the town and is not in favor of the co-op as a location. “It doesn’t seem to be the right place,” she said.
Zabin also questioned why the town even needs a market, with so many options for food shopping located nearby. She also wants to see how much the three Saturday markets will cost the town, which will have to pay for insurance and police presence for the market sessions.
“It seems like a lot of work for three markets a season,” Zabin said.
Greenwood said she is new to the community.
“I’ve lived in other places where we really had some great success with farmers markets,” Greenwood said. “I love the Greenmarket (Schenectady), I love the Troy Farmers Market.
“I thought it would be super if we could support something not nearly as grand a scale as those things here, but just something small, that maybe we could try it out and see if it was something that would work here,” Greenwood added. “There are a few local farmers, we’ve reached out to them, they are enthusiastic about the idea. We’re still working on organizing the vendors.”
Donna Evans, president of the co-op’s Board of Directors, said the market will run from 8:30 until 11:30 a.m. during the “second Saturday” events. She’s not worried about potential big crowds in the co-op’s side parking lot; she said last autumn’s chili cook-off at the co-op, which featured several town fire companies, attracted between 250 and 300 people.
“It was very successful and it went off without a hitch,” Evans said.
The town has been looking into a market since last year, and considered holding the first market late last summer or early last fall. Those plans eventually were scrapped.
Weber, who chairs the town’s Community Programs Committee, said the town polled town residents for their opinions on the market idea. Five hundred polls were returned.
“The overwhelming majority of residents indicated they wanted some sort of farmers market in Niskayuna and that’s the reason why we’re doing it,” Weber said.
Councilman John Della Ratta is also behind the idea.
“Farmers markets have a proven track record of bringing the communities together and really supporting the local farmers and the local producers in the community,” he said. “So generally speaking, it’s a very good thing to have a farmers market.”
The Town Board will vote on a special use permit for the market during its meeting on Thursday, June 20.
Niskayuna’s Planning Board also held a public hearing on the farmers market, at its meeting Monday night.
Gail King, who operates Gail King Electrolysis on the co-op block, recommended market approval in her “anticipation” that Nott Street will be rebuilt and moved south — “So that therefore the co-op and all the buildings in that area will have more room to participate in these kinds of activities.”
Michelle Lansing, who lives on nearby Via Del Mar, said she was concerned about the future. She wonders what will happen if the market grows in size.
“It would make sense then that the farmers market would move to the large lot across the street,” Lansing said. “Does that then make my neighborhood a parking lot?”
Lansing was against King’s idea about moving Nott Street.
“To move a busy street like Nott Street closer to the dozen or so kids that live immediately in that end of the street is just beyond thought to me,” she said.
Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]