Browne site is most ideal for farmers market | Editorial

The proposed purchase of the Boede Cement/Friday Harbor Electric site for a year-round farmers market is an exciting idea. But as the initial excitement has waned, other factors have become apparent. And we can say that, while the site holds promise, the earlier vision of a year-round farmers market at the Browne Lumber Co. site on Spring Street is preferred. Here’s why.

Parking and traffic would be issues at the Boede Cement/Friday Harbor Electric site. The price tag is $1 million. As proposed, $400,000 would come from the Land Bank for a historical preservation easement; $300,000 each would come from the Town of Friday Harbor and the San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild. But two key town officials have said they don’t expect the town to pursue it. That puts a $600,000 burden on the Ag Guild and the farmers. That’s in addition to the cost of restoring the building.

On the other hand, the Browne Lumber site would have more than enough room for parking and movement of pedestrians and vehicles. It would open pedestrian access between Spring Street, Blair Avenue and Second Street. One earlier plan even had park space set aside on the property.

The Browne Lumber site would meet the town and port district’s parking needs, making those two agencies likely financial contributors (parking will be an even larger need if passenger ferry service between Friday Harbor and Bellingham is initiated).

We are glad the Land Bank and the Ag Guild are working together to make a permanent farmers market site a reality in Friday Harbor. In our view, the Browne Lumber Co. site — which is No. 2 in the Ag Guild’s feasibility study of potential farmers market sites — is the best site.

(There’s historical value to the site as well. The Browne Lumber property was historically the site of the San Juan County Dairyman’s Association creamery.)

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