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Williamsville farmers market returns to the Water Mill

Williamsville's Farmers Market opens May 20, but vendors will not be setting up this summer along Main Street in front of Amherst Town Hall.

The weekly market on Saturday mornings is moving back to its original home in front of the Williamsville Water Mill on East Spring Street, north of Main, now that work to improve drainage and stormwater management on Spring Street is complete.

But market organizers also wanted to have a presence on busy Main Street.

"We hope to utilize the green space in front of town hall and the library with some of our smaller vendors that do not have trucks," Ellie Grenauer, the market's executive officer, wrote in a March 27 letter to the Town Board.

That request was denied, village officials said Monday.

"The Town of Amherst said no, we can't use the front lawn," Mayor Brian J. Kulpa said.

Last year, the market was held on the much more expansive Island Park, on the south side of Main behind Town Hall.

Organizers had hoped to expand this year to both sides of Main by allowing some vendors to set up in front of Town Hall and in its adjacent parking lot, in addition to Spring Street. With that request denied, the Village Board agreed they want the market to be contained to Spring Street.

"We have to have a farmers market," Kulpa said. "It's widely popular. I like using it. But we also want it to be something that benefits the village and it was benefiting the village was when it was over at Spring Street."

He explained that many customers would walk to the market when it was on Spring Street, and also patronize other shops and stores in the vicinity. But that has not been the case with the market at Island Park.

"Now, it's become a supermarket where people drive in, park, use the farmers market and then leave," he said. "It's not doing what it was supposed to do."

Trustee Deb Rogers added that the market in recent years had drifted away from its focus on offering fruits and vegetables from local farms and advocated a return to it.

"There's dog treats, there's soaps, there's perfumes," she said during the Village Board's work session. "I would just say to the farmers market, 'Look, we want it to be a real farmers market' and let them do the picking and choosing."

The market, entering its 10th year, is run by a nonprofit group called the Village Preservation Foundation, which also organizes the yearly Taste of Williamsville.

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