Village Nixes Downtown Farmers Market

Durell Godfrey

As part of an effort to bring more business to East Hampton Village’s commercial district, Steven Ringel, the executive director of the East Hampton Chamber of Commerce, revealed on Tuesday that he had a plan for a weekly event — part farmers market, part fair — that would take place right in the heart of the village. 

The spot Mr. Ringel has in mind is known as Percy’s Way, which runs east from Newtown Lane, just south of Babette’s restaurant, to the Schenck Fuels Services building. The event, as Mr. Ringel envisioned it, would take place on Fridays between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., with 30 to 40 booths set up by farmers, artisans, and nonprofit groups. There would be live music, and a children’s play area with attractions such as a bouncy house and a climbing wall.

 “It would be a true community gathering place and people could also do their shopping,” Mr. Ringel said. Before the day was over, however, Mr. Ringel said village officials had nixed the idea, calling the location too dangerous, partly because of its proximity to the Schenck fuel tanks. 

At a May 4 meeting of the East Hampton Village Board, Mr. Ringel had talked about an earlier plan to have a farmers market in the village. He had been exploring the relocation of the existing East Hampton Farmers Market, held on Friday mornings in the parking lot of Nick and Toni’s restaurant on North Main Street, to Herrick Park and rescheduling it to Saturday mornings so that retail stores could benefit from additional shoppers. 

Kate Plumb, the coordinator of the East Hampton market, said at the time that the main obstacles to that location would be the lack of parking, and the fact that farmers and other vendors are already booked on Saturday mornings, at farmers markets in Springs, Sag Harbor, and Westhampton Beach.

On Tuesday, Mr. Ringel said he had not yet conferred with vendors to see if Friday afternoon would be practical, but he believed it would be an easy transition for those selling at the East Hampton Farmers Market to set up shop later in the day in the heart of the village. “They can just take a couple of hours off and come over to our market,” he said. 

Ms. Plumb said this week that a few vendors may have been amenable to that, noting that some had made time for the now-defunct farmers market at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton, which took place on Friday afternoons. 

As for parking, Mr. Ringel said that vendors would be able to use an area behind Schenck Fuels to unload their goods and that the village’s Reutershan parking lot would accommodate customers.  

Chris Schenck, the owner of Schenck Fuels, said he had had a preliminary conversation with Barbara Layton, the owner of Babette’s restaurant and a member of the chamber’s board, about the possibility of allowing the area around his business to be used for the market. Although he was open to the idea, he said his tenants would have to be consulted before he could sign off on it. “It’s putting the cart before the horse,” he said of Mr. Ringel’s proposal.

As it turned out, he was right.