2007-12-07 / On Second Thought

Move the Farmers Market, and it will die

Richland County spent over $4 million for a site just five miles from the present Farmers Market and a short distance from I- 77. The land was given to S.C. with no strings attached for the construction of a Farmers Market. Two large food distributors, however, killed the deal, saying the move would be too expensive. How can private developers give them a better deal than they were offered at the Richland County site? Big food distributors like Pearce, Young & Angel, Sysko, and McEntire Produce weren't directly connected to local farmers or the vendors. They sold nothing retail. These distributors moved to other sites and spent multi- millions on up- to- date facilities.

believe two large food distributors that are pushing this so- called new market on Hwy 321 see a clever way to get new facilities paid for with state and Lexington County tax dollars while participating in the development of a privately owned industrial park. Small vendors and retail farmers are less than a secondary consideration. If forced to move, they will slowly wilt on the vine and be gone forever.

The old Farmers Market in the middle of Assembly Street was a great attraction for everyone, but there was great pressure to move it elsewhere. If more thought had been given it would have been moved over a street to land that, at that time, had little value. Think what a big attraction it would now be to Columbia, the Vista, and all the citizens who would enjoy shopping there. Shortly after the market moved, Assembly and Main Streets began to die. People quit coming.

A few years ago there was a movement to move the University to an area behind the Veterans Hospital to give it room for expansion. This failed because people couldn't stand the thought of losing the Horseshoe. Let's hope there are enough people who will speak out for leaving the State Farmers Market where it has been for at least 150 years.

Tom Elliott

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