A new Fort Mill farmers market that was supposed to begin Saturday will instead open July 13, town officials said Tuesday.
On Monday, Fort Mill Town Council approved a lease agreement with First Baptist Church to use one of its parking lots each Saturday morning through the end of November. Council previously approved a zoning change that would allow for a weekly market in the area, an effort pushed by the town-supported Fort Mill Economic Council.
Monday’s move was the last needed before the market could begin.
“We’ll open this Saturday,” Town Manager Dennis Pieper said at Monday’s meeting.
However, at a private meeting Tuesday between Pieper and members of the economic council, it was decided to move back the start date.
Town spokesperson Kimberly Starnes said Tuesday that the date was pushed back so the town would have more time to advertise the event. She also said no Fort Mill Town Council members were at the Tuesday meeting and that the town did not have to call a public meeting to discuss the issue because the market is being run by the economic council, not the town council.
Asked in a phone interview why the market needed the town’s approval and why it was included on the agenda for Monday’s meeting, Starnes replied with an email that said, “The Farmers Market was on the town’s agenda because Fort Mill Town Council was approving the lease. This project was tasked to the Fort Mill Economic Council.”
( Note to readers: The print version of this week’s Fort Mill Times has a front page story that reports the June 29 start date. That information came from Monday’s public meeting. The paper went to press Monday evening, before the date was changed).
No one from the economic council could be reached Tuesday for comment. The phone number listed on its website, 547-1002, is a non-working number and neither Chairman David R. Ward Jr. nor Vice Chairman Wink Rea returned messages left on voice mail.
The plan is to have a market with local growers bringing in-season produce. Rea said at Monday’s meeting that tents will be required for up to 80 slots.
If and when it does begin, the market will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., or until the produce sells out, officials said. According to the lease, a dollar a year will get the town use of the parking lot closer to Main Street from April 1 to Nov. 30 annually. The market will be located on the end closest to Main Street, allowing church use on the other end for weddings or other events.
Organizers worked on the project for several months ironing out details, like clean up for church service use each following Sunday morning. Mayor Danny Funderburk said Monday he expects the market to be top-notch.
“A lot of attention has been focused on these aesthetic details,” Funderburk said. “I think we’ve been diligent on addressing concerns.”