The Saranac Lake Village Board of Trustees voted 3-2 Monday night to deny a park-use request submitted by a regional farmers market cooperative.
The request was filed with the village by Richard S. Crawford, president of the Adirondack Farmers Market. The group sought to use Riverside Park on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning May 31.
Vendors at the market sell a wide variety of goods, including fruit, vegetables, jewelry, and more.
Trustees Jeff Branch and John McEneany voted in favor of the request, while Allie Pelletieri and Tom Catillaz voted against it.
Mayor Clyde Rabideau cast the deciding vote, also in opposition of the resolution.
Before the meeting, Rabideau read a letter submitted to the board by Nancy Moriarty, owner of the Lake Flower Bakery, located directly across the street from Riverside Park.
The letter states that Moriarty has hosted the Tuesday market for some seven years. But this year, the farmers cooperative added a second baker to the lineup, leading Moriarty to no longer host the market.
"Having competition in my parking lot is not feasible," she wrote.
According to Rabideau, Moriarty asked the board to approve the farmers market resolution with the condition that a baker would not be allowed to sell his or her goods.
Moriarty notes she pays taxes, something a temporary vendor at a farmers market would not be required to do.
Jo Ellen Saumier attended Monday's meeting as a representative of the Adirondack Farmers Market.
"One of the sticking points that we've had in having the market in Nancy's parking lot on Tuesdays is that our policy states that our markets are open to all members," she said. "Nancy was saying no bakers on my property - which is her right to say that. That's why we decided to move."
Saumier said any condition barring a baker from participating in a market would not be supported by the cooperative.
"I can't speak for the entire board, but I would think that such a condition would be a deal-breaker for us," she said. "We would look for someplace else, because our policies are that our markets are open to all of our members."
In explaining his opposition to the request, Mayor Rabideau says it's his job to stand up for taxpaying businesses in the village.
"They pay a lot of taxes - god knows they pay a lot of taxes - and this is a direct appeal to us," he said. "I would support an amendment allowing this farmers market not to have a baker, but I'll have to respect the wishes of this particular merchant at this time - so the answer is no."
Trustee John McEneany has been an adamant supporter of both the Tuesday and Saturday farmers markets.
But he said Monday night that many downtown merchants in Saranac Lake sell goods similar to those sold at the local farmers markets.
"If it is, in fact, the desire of the board to protect that relationship with our merchants, than both markets would have to be called into question," he said.
However, McEneany says the markets are good for Saranac Lake.
"My own personal feeling is, I think it adds to the traffic downtown," he said. "By extension, I think our downtown merchants do receive a boost in foot traffic because we do have that many more people in town. We've also seen on Saturdays how filled that park is due to the market's success."
McEneany wants the board to revisit the issue in the near future.