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Grand Island farmers market plan uprooted

A farmers market won’t open on Grand Island this month after all.

Laying out the reasons on his Facebook page on Sunday, Grand Island Town Supervisor Nathan D. McMurray cited “phantom” liability issues and concerns over the location designated by the town.

McMurray had hoped to get the market up and running on Saturday mornings in August at the Town Commons on Baseline Road.

“We created a form, set a date, and had a plan,” he said in the post. “But that form was scrutinized and red flags were raised.”

The red flags led to “unreasonably high requirements” for potential vendors, McMurray said.

“It just wasn’t working,” he said.

While the town could have used some of the larger farms in Niagara County as vendors for the market, McMurray said, a decision was made to support some of the ideas Grand Island farmers had come up with instead. The Grand Island Farm Cooperative opened a new store last week at 2487 Long Road, offering fresh produce, and several other businesses, including Kelly’s Country Store, are looking at ways to provide customers with farm-fresh goods.

McMurray said he’s been in contact with the businesses, and hopes they can coordinate their efforts.

During a work session last week, Councilman Michael Madigan raised the issue of a farmers market on the island, and said he wanted to make sure the market featured local farmers first and foremost.

“One of our key objectives is to promote or support the island agriculture businesses,” he said. “I think that’s probably a linchpin of what we’re trying to do.”

McMurray said he agreed, and brought up the businesses looking to start up markets.

“What I would suggest is that we take a step back, see where the private sector goes on this and see what candidates are good,” he said. “We’re all willing to be the facilitator for this project.”

In his post Sunday, McMurray said that farming had not always been supported on the island, but that he would continue to support farming.

McMurray had been spending his weekends during the summer checking out various farmers markets around the state and in southern Ontario, scoping out ideas to bring to Grand Island.

“I want a world-class farmers market on Grand Island,” he said at the time.

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