Although there have been some considerable public relations hiccups in recent months, Berlin is still a hot, little town that people marvel over for its recent commercial renaissance, successful special events and wave of positive exposure.
The town’s elected officials, the Chamber of Commerce, business owners and residents all deserve credit for this boom in credibility and success. The stakeholders appear to be working as a cohesive team, understanding it’s the town’s historic image in conjunction with viable businesses and appealing events that have made Berlin an attraction once again. That partnership should not be taken for granted because it’s not present everywhere.
Unfortunately, some of that momentum has been drained somewhat over the last several months and the most recent example is the town’s desire to relocate the Berlin Farmers Market.
Although concerns over parking are being given as the reason, this market needs to stay where it is to be viable. If relocated, we believe the market will fall on tough times and unquestionably vendors will see their sales decline.
If parking truly is a problem, then why are business owners parking in public spots along Main Street and nearby streets and public lots every day. How come employees are taking the best spots next to busy restaurants they work in? There are other ways to address parking. Maybe revisiting the parking fund concept that’s existence seemed to surprise everyone at this week’s meeting.
On the topic of the meeting, the Mayor and Council sat idly by and allowed the market vendors to thrash chamber officials in attendance all the while knowing it was the town that wanted to boot the market from its home for the last two decades.
Mayor Gee Williams penned a letter of apology the next day, but it was just wrong for the elected officials to not defend the chamber, which is comprised of volunteers mainly and a paid director that certainly did not deserve to be at the eye of that storm on Monday. The situation has been mishandled and it’s unlike the Berlin we have come to know of late.
There is no question the market vendors will lose money if moved. It will become a destination market where shoppers will have to know about it and want to attend it, rather than just being something visitors happen upon and decide to drop 20 bucks here and there on flowers, vegetables, fruits or whatever.
The market is institution in Berlin and relocating it should not be an option taken over the table when it comes to addressing the town’s parking concerns.