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MCAC Notes

Peddler's Hill Market
By Kathy Gagnon
Jul 24, 2007 - 8:57:33 PM

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The area currently known as Peddler's Hill is an opportunity that has been overlooked for many years. In order to utilize the area to create improved opportunities for local vendors and consumers, the Millinocket Community Action Committee has proposed a plan to upgrade and revitalize this area.

The proposal involves adding vendor booths to the area that are designed to allow vendors to be comfortably out of the elements and have an attractive display area for their goods.

A small log cabin, off to the side and behind the booths could have public restrooms available. These facilities would be handicap accessible and accommodate vendors, travelers, ATV riders, and if heated, snowmobilers in the winter. It would help to fill a shortage of easily accessible and available public facilities.

A bulletin board wall could offer space for town organizations to post information and meeting dates for their groups, town events, Katahdin Area information, park info, as well as an area to post buildings, apartments or houses for rent, real estate for sale, vehicles for sale, misc. items for sale-things someone passing through town might not otherwise see and a central place for local residents to look for such things.

For the area that is located on the sloping side, shade trees , picnic tables, benches and rock gardens can offer visitors and locals a nice place to sit and enjoy the view of Mt. Katahdin.

To provide more flexibility for the opportunities this area can provide, we propose that the area be called "Peddler's Hill Market" rather than be classified as a "farmers' market". The legal definition of a "farmers' market" in the state of Maine usually involves a larger scale of product sales through farm co-ops than what our proposal is aimed at. By avoiding the term "farmers' market" as defined by Maine State Law, the town would have more freedom to define and regulate this area to better fit the needs and desires of the town and to also look out for the interests of existing businesses already selling produce.

Because the proposed market would not be a typical "farmers' market" importing larger quantities of produce for sale, it is not anticipated that this market would have an adverse impact on local grocery stores.

Research has shown that market areas are important economic and social development tools for communities that help lead to positive economic and social transformations. Many markets similar to the proposal are commonly sponsored by local governments because they are used as an economic rehabilitation tool and an enhancement to the quality of life for a town.

Offering residents and those passing through town the opportunity to purchase fresh, locally grown produce, possibly foods prepared with them, flowers and plants for yards, and hand crafted items at a central location in town will provide people with the enjoyment of an alternative way of shopping in a fair-like, social atmosphere.

This type of venue has proven to be an important asset for community revitalization throughout New England. A market of this type would add eye appeal and charm to our town as well as offering locals and tourists alike a place to "stop and smell the roses" with a view of the beauty of Mt.

Millinocket needs many things to bring about successful economic development to revitalize the town, but an important part of that, is to bring a renewed sense of community. A market such as the one proposed could foster that and provide economic opportunities on a smaller scale for residents wishing to take advantage of this venue for selling their products. The proposal offers an opportunity for "temporary" slots in the market for local vendors who may want to try marketing their products without a large financial commitment to begin with. It will also offer seasonal growers who cannot supply produce for an entire season, such as fiddleheads, strawberries, or blueberries, an opportunity to sell for the duration of their season. Millinocket has had vendors operating at this site for many years, improving the area and offering a more appealing and comfortable option for vendors may encourage the current vendors and entice new ones to come here.

Millinocket has many local crafters who do not have the resources or product inventory that would enable them to rent a shop to open a business, but they do have products of value to offer for sale. A market could offer local crafters an outlet and an opportunity to sell their hand made products on a manageable scale to supplement their income.

The value to the community from a social standpoint would be immeasurable.

Markets such as this provide an opportunity for shoppers to talk with the vendors who actually produce the items they are buying as well as farmers/gardeners selling produce or plants that interest them. It can also offer shoppers a chance to see what foods are in season and exchange recipes or tips on cooking them.

From an economic standpoint, it would bring shoppers to the area who are then more likely to also shop at other nearby small businesses. Often, the attending vendors not only sell their products, but will also make purchases in the area.

Millinocket desperately needs something positive to happen here, revitalizing this property would be a great place to start. The hope is that much of the work to this area would be done as a community, citizens working side by side.

The result would be something eye catching and beautiful for residents and visitors alike to enjoy as well as sparking community spirit that could very well lead to a rebirth of our town and future economic growth.

Hopefully, those supporting this proposal will contact the town councilors and share their thoughts about Peddler's Hill.

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