Dunwoody's Green Market has been granted a surprise 30-day stay at its Post Office parking lot site, but the city is hoping there will be a resolution to the vacate order this week that will keep the popular farmers' market in Dunwoody Village.
City Manager Warren Hutmacher shared that information at a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association Sunday night at the North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center.
Asked after the meeting if a move to privately owned land rather than city, state or federal property would cause zoning issues for the Green Market, Hutmacher said no.
Hutmacher said if the market, which operates on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to noon from mid-April to mid-November, moves into the privately owned parking area of Dunwoody Village that it would fall under that property owners’ commercial zoning. In that case, he said, the move would not require zoning modifications.
Two properties the city has been considering as potential relocation sites are in Dunwoody Park and Brook Run Park, according to Bob Mullen, marketing and public relations director for the City of Dunwoody.
Robert Lundsten, chief of staff to DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer, challenged Hutmacher about why the city was involved with helping a private, for-profit commercial vendor in their business relocation efforts. “That’s not the role of city government,” said Lundsten.
“Let me clarify,” Hutmacher responded. “No decision has been made to put the Green Market in one of the parks.” The plan is to find commercial space in the village, he said.
Paula Guilbeau, market president, also addressed the meeting, and said Dunwoody Village is a location the vendors like because the market attracts young families and is easily accessible to them and the people in nearby neighborhoods who can walk to the market.
She was asked if the vendors are required to buy business licenses. Anne Bailey, Green Market treasurer who attended the meeting with Guilbeau, explained that this issue had not come up before because the market has been located at the Post Office - federal government property - for the last three years.
Guilbeau added that they would be happy to pay for a business license. “We want to be a good neighbor,” she said.
In the meantime, the market and the city have gained a little breathing room in the search for a new location, although exactly how much is unclear.
Guilbeau said her understanding of the 30-day reprieve is that it began on Friday, May 4, the day she was notified of the extension in an email from City Clerk Sharon Lowery. The email said the market was being granted a 30-day “stay” effective last Friday and that the stay was negotiated by Dunwoody City Councilman Denny Shortal and Postmaster Royal Smith, Guilbeau said in an email about the situation.
The only stipulation is that vendors and customers cannot park in the immediate area in front of or on the side of the post office. This stipulation will be strictly enforced.
When asked about the effective begin and end dates of the reprieve after the meeting, Hutmacher said he wasn’t sure. He added that he would have to check on that.
Guilbeau said her understanding from Lowery’s email is that he market’s last scheduled day at the Post Office location is now May 30. If true, the 30-day stay effectively gives the market two more weeks at the current site. The market’s last day at the postal parking lot under the vacate order would have been May 16.
The Post Office needs the space where the Green Market operates because the financially troubled agency is closing a Shallowford Road facility and is moving that operation to the Post Office in Dunwoody Village.
Robert Kinsey, chief executive officer for the Spruill Center, has also made a pitch for the market. The vendors were at the Spruill Gallery from 2006-2008, and Kinsey told Guilbeau early last week he would like to have them back. The Spruill Center for the Arts, which is a private 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, owns the Spruill Gallery property, Kinsey said in an email. He added that he planned to contact the city.
Alan Mothner, executive director of the Nature Center, said he would love to see the market at the Nature Center. He thinks the meadow would make a perfect location.
“We’re lucky as a city to have the market,” he said during a shopping visit last Wednesday. “It’s a huge community asset. Anybody would be lucky to have them on their grounds.”
The Nature Center is part of Dunwoody Park, which includes the ball fields, and is owned by the city.
The consensus among shoppers at last week’s market who voiced an opinion about the best choice for a new home for the vendors, was that the new location should be in a very visible area near the current location. This location, they contended, would be the easiest for residents to find and the best spot for the vendors to realize optimum sales.
Shoppers also voiced strong objections to a possible move to Brook Run Park.
“Brook Run is not accessible,” said Diane Wilkes, who lives in Sandy Springs and shops at the Dunwoody Green Market every week during its April-November season. “The vendors will lose business because it’s in a different part of town.”
Several shoppers, including Wilkes, said they would like to see the market at Walgreen’s where the Big John’s Christmas tree sales are.
If Hutmacher’s hopes come true, everyone will know the answer by the end of the week.
In other gardening-related news:
Melinda Hale won last week’s drawing at the Green Market for $200 in market shopping dollars, according to Michele Greene, director of volunteers for the market. All of the “dollars” must be spent with market vendors. "We enjoy the unusual and fresh items we get at the Green Market,” Hale said in an email. “Family members in other states depend on us to keep them supplied with their favorites. We find a visit to the Green Market to be a wonderful start to our day, and we always get a treat to take home with us. Some of the items we've bought and enjoyed over the years include honey, jam, jewelry, cheese, pasta, bacon, muffins, breads, tomatoes (and tomato plants), cookies, pies and many other things."
The Dunwoody Nature Center Lunch and Learn series will move to an evening session Thursday when environmental writer and former Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Charles Seabrook will talk about his recently released book, The World of the Salt Marsh (published by University of Georgia Press). The book is a wide-ranging exploration of the Southeast coast—its natural history, its people, their way of life and the historic and ongoing threats to its ecological survival. Books will be available for purchase and signing during the event, which will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Advanced registration is required by contacting the Nature Center at (770) 394-3322 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Wine, beer and soft drinks will be available to adult guests at a nominal charge. The Nature Center is re-evaluating the Lunch and Learn program and trying to figure out the most convenient way for people to attend the lectures, said Executive Director Alan Mothner.
The Dunwoody Community Garden needs your help to win one of 17 orchards that will be awarded nationwide by Edy’s Fruit Bars.
Support the garden by voting here. Once on the site, just follow the prompts to vote. A voting shortcut is to go to the "Leaders" tab on the main page. You can access the Dunwoody garden voting site from this tab as long as the Community Garden is one of the top vote getters. Remember, you can vote once a day on each of your email accounts. Voting ends August 30. The first round winners will be announced May 31.
The Board of Directors of the Community Garden has two new members, Connie Morelle and Art Simon. “We are looking forward to their enthusiasm and expertise in helping to us to continue making strides with the garden,” Garden President Don Converse said in an email to members announcing the new Board members. Morelle chairs the Dunwoody Sustainability Commission, is a past member of the Board of the Dunwoody Nature Center and now serves on its Advisory Board.