Thursday, June 1, 2017

Our Market Handout Attracts Attention

My wife and I are traveling and won't be able to respond to this in detail until early next week, But let me just say that unfortunately none of the information in the petition is fiction.

The following is from Ken Katz Splash Pad News.


The author of the flyer and petition that are being distributed at the farmers market has created what is essentially a work of pure fiction and a point-by-point response is warranted.
The “few people in the neighborhood” who are leading the campaign for an RFP that would solicit bids from other management teams includes Jerry Barclay, the Chair of the Splash Pad Farmers Market Advisory Group, who was appointed by Pat Kernighan, and me, who served as community liaison during planning for Splash Pad Park construction and who, until fairly recently, was the Farmers Market’s biggest booster. We have significant community support for our RFP request.
The author of the flyer claims that we don’t “like the market’s popularity.” To the contrary, we love the market’s popularity but hate the congestion that’s driving a significant number of our neighbors to shop elsewhere. We’ve presented the market management with a list of simple fixes that they’ve declined to implement.
The claim that we don’t want (prepared) food vendors or crafts is just totally preposterous. The overwhelming consensus supports the current market mix and variety.
What motivates Jerry and me so strongly is our experience in dealing, for over a decade, with a Marin-centric organization that has been reluctant to do much of anything to protect the park and serve the community. With the distinct possibility that they could lose what’s been a cash cow, the Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM) has suddenly begun to “get religion.”
Two years ago, AIM’s attorney told the City they could only afford to pay $800 per month. Now they’re apparently also promising to contribute a six-figure sum for park improvements in return for a five-year lease.  The management team that chose not to provide Oakland school children with the same opportunities they offered to kids in Marin has suddenly announced that they’re bussing two classes across the bridge for a farm tour – which they claim is coincidental.  Same goes for the fact that, for the first time in eighteen years, they hired an Oakland resident to work the Grand Lake Market – who also happens to be the first person of color. This is just a sample from a long list of accommodations that AIM has made under duress. If they’re granted a lease, we have little confidence in their willingness to go the extra mile.
Regardless of who ends up with the farmers market lease, the city has to establish stringent and comprehensive operational guidelines to protect the park infrastructure and ensure that the market is more people-friendly and less congested. Just as importantly, they have to provide strict enforcement, which has been totally lacking since the market moved into the new park in 2003.  A community-based, non-profit board would have those two goals as a top priority. In addition, it would be in a position to utilize the substantial profits from the market for much-needed park repairs and also pay a monthly rental fee in keeping with the City’s Master Fee Schedule. A community-based, non-profit board would also be more inclined to support local institutions, neighborhood businesses, and the community as a whole. I’d add that I believe we’re also better prepared to support the Grand Lake Market vendors than has AIM. To wit, the only list of Grand Lake vendors is THIS ONE on the Splash Pad website.

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