Farmers market not loving Lee Street parking lot as permanent home

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 18, 2014

SALISBURY — Despite plans to build a permanent farmers market across from the Salisbury depot, vendors may want to stay put on Jackson Street.

In a letter to City Manager Doug Paris, Mike Turco said the Salisbury Rowan Farmers Market board of directors is “very interested” in staying in the Wrenn House parking lot at 115 S. Jackson St. or somewhere else on the same block.

The city, tourism authority and others recently completed a three-day design workshop where architects came up with multiple visions for putting the farmers market in a permanent home on North Lee Street across from the depot. Farmers market vendors participated in the design workshop but have been concerned about a lack of parking.

“… Although our primary goal is to find a permanent location, we are not in agreement that this proposed location will best suit the market’s needs,” wrote Turco, board president. “We are in the process of researching alternative locations and are very interested in exploring the possibility of location a permanent market on the Maxwell Chambers Trust block.”

The trust, which is connected to First Presbyterian Church, owns the block that includes the Bell Tower and gazebo, former First Bank and a parking lot leased by the Salisbury Post.

The farmers market board is thankful for the support and concern the city has shown during the many years the market has operated downtown, Turco said, and vendors want to stay in the central business district. The market recently declined an invitation from Rowan County commissioners to move to the former Salisbury Mall.

“Should an arrangement be possible with the Trust, we believe this location will probably suit other community events too, and we would like to find a way to work with other organizations to share the space in meaningful and productive ways,” Turco said.

For the past decade, master plans for tourism and downtown Salisbury have called for a festival plaza or cultural plaza on city-owned property across from the depot, where police cars currently park. Recently, those plans have included the farmers market, which was located for years on South Main Street in another city parking lot until Salisbury sold the property to Integro Technologies for a new headquarters.

Paris said he would work with the farmers market to meet their needs.

“As city manager, I feel that it is important to proceed in the fashion in which you have prescribed,” Paris wrote to Turco. “Over the next several months, I will work with the Salisbury City Council and the owners of the Maxwell Chambers property to discuss how the board of director’s request can be brought to fruition.”

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.