The Falmouth Art Market, held each summer on Town Hall Square, is forced to scout for a new location, based on the Falmouth Board of Selectmen’s new special events policy.
“We’ve been there for eight years. If art and music is not a good use of that space, then I don’t know what is,” said Joyce A. Lorman, co-manager of the market. She spoke at Monday’s board of selectmen meeting and expressed her displeasure that the board refused to reconsider her application after she said she addressed their concerns and wants “the same consideration that was given to the farmers market.”
About 25 local vendors use Town Hall Square park to sell their crafts every Thursday afternoon in July and August.
The board modified its special events policy over the winter to include carefully considering the impact an event would have on parking and traffic on the main streets in July and August when the arteries in town are clogged with vehicles. The policy states these events will be avoided if at all possible during the busy summer months. The permits are vetted by the town’s special events working group that provides its recommendation to the selectmen.
“It wouldn’t be fair to make an exception for them and not for other groups,” said board of selectmen chairman Mary (Pat) Flynn. “We followed the recommendation of the working group, who was following the town’s policy.”
At the last selectmen’s meeting, the board denied the Marine Corps League from holding their August fundraiser in front on Main Street’s post office.
She also explained the board’s decision permitting the farmers market one more year to operate at Peg Noonan Park was to avoid relocating them for only two months out of their six-month operation.
“The farmers market is on notice they must find a new location for next year,” she said.
Ms. Lorman said when the working group denied her the permit back in March, it was based on traffic concerns and neighbor complaints. Since then, she secured parking for the artists at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, assigned booth spaces to avoid vendors arriving early to secure a good location, and collected letters of support from neighboring businesses. Two weeks ago she attempted to reapply, but was told by assistant town manager Heather B. Harper the board wasn’t willing to reconsider. She has been in touch with staff at the Gus Canty Recreation Center and may land there next year. The location eyed as the future home is between the center’s parking lot and sidewalk and needs to be leveled before carts can be placed there.
Twenty-five percent of the art market profits went to the Falmouth Arts Council that used the money for small grants for artists.
Council chairman Allan D. Moniz said the market usually gave around $1,200 per year, but that number had dwindled in recent years when the town started charging more for special permits.
“It’s like they’re robbing Peter to pay Paul,” he said. “The arts are always underfunded, and it was great that we were able to use locally generated money.”
Since her application request was denied, Ms. Lorman used the public comment period at the selectmen’s meeting to ask for reconsideration. Since it is not an agenda item, selectmen could not discuss the fate during the meeting, but Ms. Flynn said later they would not reconsider their decision.