Friday, April 4, 2014

Midtown Farmers Market Face-Lift

We attended a community meeting in Midtown Minneapolis last evening – fighting a driving snow storm to get there and back – and found it invigorating and far different than our low-key life in the country.
by Charlie Leck
4 April 2014
We attended a community gathering last night in the northeast corner of the Corcoran Neighborhood in Minneapolis. A block of property, right next to the Lake Street station of the Hiawatha Light Rail Line, is currently owned by the Minneapolis School Board. Hennepin County is seriously considering a purchase of this property and a redevelopment of it that involves significant cooperation with the residential and business interests of that neighborhood. The plan is only in its embryonic stage and there will be lots more of these conversations in order to bring a wide spectrum of varying interests and stake-holders together.
We were there because my wife has been a vendor at the Midtown Farmers Market, which sets up on that piece of property, ever since the market first opened. We don’t have much of a financial stake in the neighborhood, but we’ve developed an emotional attachment to a lot of the people there and we feel strongly about the market’s future. And, we like the work that the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization does in sponsoring this market and advocating for the health and welfare of the entire neighborhood.
It will be four or five years down the road before the changes and developments really impact the market and, by that time, my wife will likely be retiring from this rugged lamb production work she does. It may be just as well. Though the market will likely become a much more attractive place in a very busy and bustling location, there will be much less room for getting a pickup truck and a freezer trailer in place to offer the product we sell.
You can see some of this early thinking about the development of the site on the Midtown Farmers Market web site. I've also included a photo that graphically explains the change in size of the market. The entire development will certainly be a mixed use location that will feature housing for various incomes and ages, retail and office availability and a home for a neighborhood center for the county’s health and human services work.
The neighborhood residents in the current single family houses – to the south and immediate southwest – are worried about the increase of traffic and parking in the areas where they live. There is currently a significant Park & Ride site for users of the light rail line and that space will be gobbled up by the development. That adds more worries for home owners who don’t want curb-side parking to increase in their residential neighborhood. The chances for conversation about these matters were very limited last night because of the jam-packed agenda and one could sense that a number of special interests were given too little time for an expression of their concerns – including bicyclists, home-owners, environmentalists and sustainability advocates.
We came away feeling that this is a very exciting project! The farmers market will certainly change in character and I see it becoming much more like the current Mill City Farmers Market down alongside the Guthrie Theater – and that’s not a bad thing. We’ve made a lot of good friends at the Midtown Market and in the Corcoran neighborhood and we wish them nothing but great good luck on this very exhilarating time that lies ahead for them.
In the meantime, we look forward to the opening of the 2014 Midtown Farmers Market on Saturday, May 3rd and we’ll see you there.
It was some drive home last night in the heavy April snowstorm that rolled into the Twin Cities. We took between 10 and 11 inches of snow here on our farm.
Miscellaneous Thoughts
We enjoyed listening to the presentations of various interest groups last night and we learned quite a bit about how community organization and the nature of communities have changed over the years. We allow ourselves to get pretty isolated out here in the country and we have to catch up on some of the terminology we hear at a meeting like this – co-housing (I sat down this morning and did a bunch of reading to understand it), green-living, Leeds Housing, solar energy, water conservation in housing development and sustainability.
Various interests at the meeting last night (some of the stake-holders) have quite a job ahead of them. I’m talking about the Minneapolis School Board, the Hennepin County Commissioners, the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization and the City of Minneapolis. I hope the YWCA, which owns property just to the west, will also be very involved.
There was a point in the meeting where I wanted to stand up and shout-out proudly that we installed a geo-thermal heating system in our home just this past autumn. We’re not complete hicks or country-bumpkins, you know!


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