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Plan to move Poulsbo Farmers Market to Nelson Park is 'dead'
POULSBO — In her state of the city address last month, Mayor Becky Erickson said moving the Poulsbo Farmers Market to Nelson Park would “jumpstart” the revitalization of Viking Avenue.
“It is centrally located and it would bridge downtown with Viking Avenue,” she said. “Additionally, we are doing a trail connection so you will be able to walk from downtown to Nelson Park and the farmers market.”
By the end of the month, however, the proposed move was dead: The farmers market site — and a proposed road to it from Edvard Street — would have damaged wetlands, and the farmers market wouldn’t have had the money to mitigate the loss.
“It’s a dead deal,” said Terry Burns, a Windermere Real Estate agent and treasurer of the Poulsbo Farmers Market.
Nelson Park is 11 acres bounded largely by Lindvig Way, Liberty Bay, and properties that front Viking Avenue and Edvard Street. On the former farm are the Nelson farmhouse — which is now the caretaker’s residence — and two meadows, a forest, wetlands and shoreline. The Martinson Cabin was moved to a portion of the park nearest the corner of Viking Avenue and Lindvig Way, and is operated as a museum by the Poulsbo Historical Society.
Burns, who has been looking for a place for the farmers market to build a permanent home where it can operate year-round, is disappointed.
“It was the most promising site,” he said. The park consists of “wetlands and shoreline and forest, and we want it to remain that way. But we need an acre and would need to build a road from Edvard Street.”
The farmers market operates an outdoor market from April to December in the Poulsbo Village Medical Center parking lot, at 7th Avenue and Iverson Street. The market has approximately 40 vendors and attracts more than 850 shoppers a week, according to the farmers market. Several businesses that started at the farmers market have gone on to open storefronts, including Borrowed Kitchen Bakery, ChocMo, Crimson Cove Smoked Foods, and Viking Feast Ice Cream.
The farmers market also features live music, classes, demonstrations and other events. The market was twice nominated by the Washington State Farmers Market Association as Farmers Market of the Year.
Vendors generated $500,000 in revenue in 2013. Burns likes to point out that that’s just in 38 Saturdays. Farmers market officials believe they could easily multiply that if the market had a building where it could operate a couple of days a week year-round.
The farmers market has pitched more than one potential scenario in an effort to make that happen. In one, the Port of Poulsbo would buy the old city hall site on Jensen Way and lease it to the farmers market. In another, North Kitsap Fishline would lease a portion of its property on Viking Avenue — the old Poulsbo RV site.
The port has an option on the old city hall site and is studying potential uses. Fishline executive director Mary Nader said Fishline wants to settle in at Viking Avenue before it figures out how the overall site can be used; it is moving from 3rd Avenue to Viking Avenue in spring.
So, for now, the farmers market will sit tight and prepare to open April 5 at 7th and Iverson. The site was recently sold by Tim Ryan Properties. “The new owner has said we can keep using it,” Burns said. “We’re not under threat to leave. But we want a year-round covered location.”
Mayor Erickson said she’d still like to see the farmers market on Viking Avenue, but realizes it’s not going to happen without help. “They don’t have funding to purchase any properties, so it would be difficult for them to go out there,” she said of the market. “Everyone is requiring more money than they have. They’re kind of running out of alternatives.”