Plant Idea of East Hampton Farmers Market Move

Saturdays at Herrick Park could be ‘problematic’; vendors urge coordination
Not only would parking be a problem if the market were in Herrick Park, but “none of the vendors can move to Saturday, they’re all booked,” said Kate Plumb, the coordinator of the East Hampton Farmers Market. Durell Godfrey

A proposal to make Herrick Park the new site for the East Hampton Farmers Market and to reschedule it from Fridays to Saturdays was discussed at the East Hampton Village Board meeting on Friday, but the market’s vendors are reportedly not keen on the idea. 

Steven Ringel, the executive director of the East Hampton Chamber of Commerce, told the board that he had been exploring relocating the market from the parking lot of Nick and Toni’s restaurant on North Main Street as part of his efforts to bring more activity to the village’s commercial district. For the past 12 years, the market has been held in the Nick and Toni’s lot on Fridays from mid-May to early September.

According to Kate Plumb, the coordinator of the farmers market, the main obstacles to uprooting and rescheduling it would be the village’s dearth of parking and an already jam-packed schedule of Saturday markets that includes ones in Springs, Sag Harbor, and Westhampton. 

“None of the vendors can move to Saturday, they’re all booked,” said Ms. Plumb. 

Art Ludlow, the owner of the Mecox Bay Dairy, who sells cheeses and other produce at several East End farmers markets, confirmed Ms. Plumb’s assessment later. “It’s problematic to have four farmers markets on the same day, I just don’t have the staff,” he said. Mr. Ludlow added that he had heard the same complaint from other vendors and said “usually the towns coordinate with each other on scheduling and I would hope that would continue.”

As for the parking problem, Ms. Plumb said she thought it would be impractical for the vendors to park in the village’s long-term parking lot and then cart their produce to Herrick Park. 

Since the East Hampton farmers market is getting ready to open on Friday, May 18, any change for this season doesn’t seem feasible, said Ms. Plumb. And even if the parking and scheduling issues could be resolved, the vendors would ultimately have to sign off on the move. “We’d have to have a majority agreement among the 21 vendors,” she said.

Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said that he too had been discussing the idea with Barbara Layton, the owner of Babette’s restaurant and one of the chamber’s board members. The mayor then tapped Barbara Borsack and Richard Lawler, his colleagues on the board, to oversee further discussions.

In other business, the board presented a preliminary 2018-19 operating budget for the village. The nearly $22.25 million budget marks a 2.48-percent increase over this year’s, which the mayor pointed out was largely due to higher health insurance costs and additional funding for future capital projects. A decision was made to go forward with reauthorizing an agreement to share information technology services with East Hampton Town, and to seek a bid on a construction project to extend the sidewalk on the west side of Toilsome Lane, connecting it to an existing wheelchair ramp opposite Meadow Way.

The mayor also led a moment of silence in memory of William O’Donnell, whom he referred to as “the beloved husband of Diane O’Donnell, a longtime member of the ambulance corps, and its former chief.”