Millville continues to consider possible farmer's market

Millville’s town council this week discussed the possibility of further researching hosting a farmers’ market at town hall. Councilwoman Joan Bennett reported that she and Town Manager Debbie Botchie had discussed, “conceptually, preliminarily,” what would need to happen for a town to host a market.

Bennett said her concerns about Route 26 traffic being diverted because of the planned Route 26 Mainline road improvements had been alleviated when she checked with DelDOT officials and was told that portion of the project was scheduled still for “some years to come.” She also said she was concerned about a lack of parking at town hall and discussed possibly entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Millville Methodist Church across the street that would help alleviate those concerns.

“Debbie and I discussed ‘where’ and possible expenditures to the town,” she said, explaining that the eastern side of the town hall property had a shaded strip of grass that might work for a market location. She said that, if vendors were asked to bring their own tables, chairs and tents – as they are in other local towns that host farmers’ markets – costs to the town could be kept to a minimum.

Mayor Gerry Hocker said he would like to require, at least for the first year — if they were to go through with a market — that vendors provide their own set-ups, to keep costs down. Councilman Robert Gordon asked about what the town’s liability would be should there be contaminated produce or other issues.

Hocker said that such a problem is usually traced back to the grower, and Councilman Jon Subity said that liability issues could possibly be a caveat they put in vendor contracts, as other towns do.

Hocker also said he would like to invite Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee to a workshop or meeting to answer any questions about the markets in general.

“What do you see as the next step?” Subity asked Bennett.

She said Botchie has contacts for grant funding should the town need to spend any money and also has a farmer willing to talk about managing the market.

“As it is still conceptual and preliminary, we don’t have to invent the wheel,” said Bennett, referencing the other towns that could give them guidance with vendor contracts, liability issues and other concerns. She did say that, if the council were to vote that they wanted to go forward with a market, “this spring or summer could be a reality.”

In other news from the Nov. 8 council meeting:

• Councilman Richard Thomas said he had “run into a bit of a wall” in trying to get a water supply to town hall for a sprinkler system, but he did say that DelDOT and Tidewater Utilities had agreed to meet next week about options.

“It’s a situation we have to grow out of,” he said of the previous council’s and mayor’s decision to not run a water supply for or install a sprinkler system in the town hall addition while it was being built.