Is the Meet Me in Marlborough Farmers Market actually a flea market?
Town Legislator Thomas Corcoran posed the question to the Marlborough Town Board June 14 on behalf of curious constituents who are beginning to question why non-agricultural vendors, particularly those from outside the town, were selling their wares at the weekly bazaar.
“I’m getting some complaints from some of the local businesses,” Corcoran said at the Tuesday meeting, pointing to frequent vendors who travel from outside Marlborough: Lasher Meadows from Poughkeepsie, Queens City Farm Distillery from Poughkeepsie and Saltwater Coffee from New York City were just a few. Commodities range from fruits and vegetables to clothing and jewelry rather than exclusively farm products.
Councilman Allan Koenig said allowing out of town businesses to participate makes it more difficult for local vendors to make a living. The market, he said, should make it easier for farmers to sell their items rather than compete with other businesses.
The locality issue was not the only concern raised by Corcoran, however. Vendors are asked to pay either $22 or $25 to participate in the market, according to Meet Me in Marlborough’s website, an aspect that perplexed the legislator. The point of the weekly event is to promote their business rather than turn a profit, Corcoran said. If anything, the market costs the town money because they hire an employee to be there each week, the legislator pointed out.
Town Supervisor Al Lanzetta said he was unaware of the application fee and that the Town of Marlborough hadn’t seen any of that money. He and other board members surmised it was being collected by Meet Me in Marlborough.
The weekly farmers market was established several years ago with the intent of promoting the town’s agritourism, said Councilman Howard Baker.
“Marlborough is all about agritourism. It’s the heart of what we do in Marlborough,” Baker said.
The Councilmembers did not feel comfortable making any decisions in regulating the market without speaking with organizers, especially whether or not it should be considered a flea market or a farmers market. Baker did say that if the farmers market had surpassed its original mission then there could be a possibility that it would be scaled back. On the flip side, he said, the Meet Me in Marlborough organizers may have opened the market to out of town vendors to attract more traffic and increase sales.
Corcoran also raised traffic safety concerns pertaining to the market.
“You guys approved the entrance and entry onto [Route] 9W through the town park entry only, correct?” Corcoran questioned, to which the councilmembers answered affirmatively. “So, the problem is, from the complaints that I’m getting, there is multiple opportunity for accidents there because they’re coming in and out anywhere they want along the 9W corridor.”
Corcoran said traffic cones are spread too far apart from one another — about 20 feet — to prevent drivers from entering the makeshift parking lot from any point they choose. He argued the lot needs to be more appropriately blocked off to prevent a vehicle collision.
The Town Board agreed to sit down with Meet Me in Marlborough organizers to clear up the confusion and find productive ways to promote local vendors but entice shopper consumption.
In other board business, Lanzetta declared Marlborough would host a Time of Remembrance on September 18 for those who have succumbed to Covid-19. The commemoration, which was unanimously approved by the Town Board in March, would feature loved ones leading prayers and sharing stories of those who have passed, as well as craft boards for displays of photographs and other momentos. At dusk, lanterns will be released across the pond to the sound of solemn cello music.
As of June 14, seven had died in Marlborough and 264 in Ulster County.