By William J. Branigan
The "town fathers" of Mount Jackson should be ashamed for forcing the closing of the Mount Jackson Farmer's Market. Perhaps "town fathers" are the wrong words. Picayune, small town politicians, with no foresight, might be a better description. Does it seem realistic to force foreclosure of the operation because of a gravel parking lot? This operation is only open four to five hours for two days of the week.
The disgusting action of forcing a young couple who bought an abandoned mill to pave their parking area to meet some miniscule rule is a rude slap in the face of the agricultural community in Mount Jackson. Is the town afraid that the footprints in the gravels of time will harm the town?
The mill has been abandoned for years. When it was in operation, the gravel parking area was in vogue and perfectly satisfactory and, very interestingly, absorbs rainfall. If left abandoned, the mill still would be just an eyesore for the town.
A young couple with a vision purchased the mill hoping to bring a farmer's market to the people of Mount Jackson. Mount Jackson is not an urban nor suburban area and most likely never will be. It is a wonderful small rural community in the heart of one of the most beautiful agricultural areas in the country. Should town officials not take advantage of that and host any business that maintains that image?
Imagine, another business, opening new horizons for local people, especially agricultural interests and perhaps artisans. Apparently, this has threatened the politicians who are running, or perhaps, I should say ruining the town? Is it the town's goal to force its residents to travel to other towns to buy their local agricultural products or even other products produced in Mount Jackson? What are the town officials thinking? Are they acting in the best interest of the town? Is there some other vague or "hidden" reason for their wanting to close what could develop into a vital new business?
Another problem that town officials have presented to the mill owners comes from not allowing them to place any sort of signage directing people to the farmer's market site. Now catch this; the farmer's market is allowed to have someone stand on the sidewalk on Route 11 and wave signs directing traffic to the business, but it is not allowed to place so much as an A-frame sign in that same area to direct vehicles to the market.
However, if one were to travel out toward Bryce on Route 263, on a grassy area off the highway several miles down the road, you will see a rather large sign announcing "Holtzman Fuel Corp." Is it allright for the Holtzmans to have a sign announcing their company, but deny the farmer's market a sign? Perhaps someone should ask Todd Holtzman, a town official. Apparently he was one of those voting for the denial.
The most interesting part of this whole mess is that on the same street and adjacent to the mill lot, the town officials, in their great wisdom, have placed a recycle bin on a graveled lot. My, my, is that just not another slap in the face of the Mount Jackson agricultural community? It is allright to have a gravel surface for a recycle bin, but not for a farmer's market. Which one gets the most traffic?
Is it not time for the rural/agricultural community to find some people to run for town offices so they can at least be treated fairly? There must be some practical, fair-minded individuals out there who can serve this community better than those who are now in office.
Come on now, residents of Mount Jackson, step up and let the town officials know that you want the farmer's market back in business, and that a gravel parking area is a great idea.
William J. Branigan is Mount Jackson resident.