Economic Development Corporation Vice-Chair Kimberly Thompson said “The Marketplace on the Green Project,” the year-round farmers’ market, is making progress with its plans to open later this year, potentially during the summer. Funding has been being raised since 2014 according to Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Farmers’ Market Manager Corey Patrick said the campaign ended on Feb. 8.
The Meridian Township Farmers Market is at 5151 Marsh Rd., in Okemos while the Winter Farmers Market is in the Meridian Mall in the J.C. Penny corridor.
Because the markets are such a popular attraction, the Meridian Economic Development Corporation would like to see it go year-round.
The land that the market will be built at was once owned by the mall. Due to ordinances set in place by the township regarding flood planes, all businesses on Okemos Road or Grand River Avenue need to have a plan for where the water goes should a flood occur.
Parks and Recreation Director LuAnn Maisner said that since the mall doesn’t have a flood plain, the government plans to swap four acres of land near the new fire station for 2.43 acres of green space along Central Park Drive.
Economic Development Corporation Vice Chair Kimberly Thompson said the farmer’s markets are such a big asset to the township.
The township plans to build a number of attractions at the new market, including a year-round synthetic ice skating rink and a stage for shows and concerts. In addition to the farmers market, the township is planning on making additions to the Meridian Historical Village.
Something that the current farmers market struggles with is parking. The current location is just too out of the way and not as close to a lot as it could be. To have access to the mall parking lots would help immensely.
“We have an agreement with Meridian Mall to use their parking lot,” said Maisner. “One of the deficiencies we had at our current location is lack of parking.”
Having such a big space for the market will be big for both vendors and customers. The vendors will have easier access to the market while there will be parking for more vendors to bring their goods and services to the market.
Maisner said the new plans for the market will cost $1.3 million, while the plans for the Meridian Historical Village will cost about $800,000.
A fundraiser for the year-round market took place at the Winter Farmers Market.
Farmer’s Market Manager Patrick Corey said funds and fees paid by the vendors just sustain the market and that the township doesn’t make big profits off of the farmers market, but special events certainly help.
Corey said that the big event planned for the year is set to take place on June 29. Similar to most communities, this will be a big summer event for the township. With the event being planned for the weekend before the Fourth of July, it only makes sense to celebrate America. In addition to a Fourth of July celebration, Corey said he has a number of ideas and plans for the new market.
“Something like a cornhole league,” said Corey. “Having our youth sports camps there, things like that. It’s tough to program for something that’s not there right now.”