published Saturday, April 5th, 2014

Dayton farmers market could relocate by 2015

Produce stands attract visitors at the curbside farmer's market along Third Ave. next to the Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton.
Produce stands attract visitors at the curbside farmer's market along Third Ave. next to the Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton.
Photo by Staff File Photo.

DAYTON, Tenn. — Officials in Dayton are considering relocating the downtown farmers market to Washington Street if farmers consent.

"We'll agree, with stipulations," farmer Agnew Jewell said at an impromptu farmers' meeting about the proposed move.

Officials have discussed relocating the downtown farmers market for more than four years following criticism about the operation hampering traffic flow near the Rhea County Courthouse.

Earlier this month, the Dayton City Planning Commission and MainStreet Dayton representative Jim Barth suggested moving the market from its current Third Avenue along the historic courthouse square.

Planning officials asked Barth to work with local farmers to develop a plan for the relocation, allow for their review and make a recommendation to the City Council.

Barth told farmers that officials might agree to enlarging parking spaces from 9 feet to 12 to better accommodate farmers' vehicles and tents for selling produce.

Melvin Hall, a farmer who suggested closing Third Avenue as a thoroughfare for motorists, voiced his reluctance about the suggested move.

"It's going to hurt us for a little while," Hall said.

Farmer Ronnie Wilkey asked for additional lighting for those who begin their days selling produce in the early morning.

Barth asked for a consensus among the group of 10 farmers at the meeting.

Jewell told Barth that the change could affect up to 12 farmers who would need assurances that they could return to the courthouse site "if it doesn't succeed" and if patron traffic dropped off at the Washington Street site.

Barth said he would pass those stipulations along to the planning commission, and that its next meeting is scheduled for April 21 if they wished to attend.

The move could take place in 2015, if not sooner, depending on officials' approval of a revised ordinance and suggested changes at the Washington Street site.

Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at kdj424@bellsouth.net.

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