Poor location for market

Obviously downtown Parkersburg could use a boost and some fresh ideas to help revive or spur investment, but a solid game plan is needed. Several questionable plans jump to mind when folks begin looking at the area’s overall direction. I’ll start with the “farmers’ market.”

When the farmers’ market opened in downtown Parkersburg, one has to wonder if the founders had a goal of “must be located in a very hectic area to drive and to park” as part of their criteria. Slowly it appears to have grown into a craft show with lunch vendor carts and a few fruits and vegetables for sale on the side. Now the folks in charge have an idea of moving it further off the beaten path to the end of Ann Street next to the floodwall.

Years back, most people I spoke with loved the idea of the farmers’ market and thought the larger picnic shelters at the City Park and Southwood Park would have been great locations. Folks could walk and pull a wagon, ride their bicycles and of course drive to those central locations. The shelters would have saved the expense of erecting an out of place looking canopy next to a historical landmark.

Does anyone consider eye appeal, a pleasurable shopping experience and first impressions made on visitors when they visit an empty area next to a concrete wall 22 feet high? Sure some citizens can walk from their offices and some brave souls might bike to the proposed location, but this will be completely out of most people’s way.

Economic developers will explain a critical mass of people is largely the key to success of any venture nearby people desiring to buy fruits and vegetables and seeking the opportunity to do so is essential. Maybe a sum total of about 300-400 people live within a half-mile walk? Think of the thousands or residents who live around the two city parks.

The market could be a great tool for the redevelopment of a struggling area. Breathing new life into a neighborhood and spurring new small businesses to move into some of the many empty store fronts around our community. But instead planners seem to want move from a poor location to a worse one. Moving to a sparse location with previous failed business attempts seems like a move with much more risk than reward.

Jeff Fox