A Shrewsbury Township supervisor upset over her colleagues' decision to cut ties with the local farmers' market is rallying residents and supporters to her cause.
Township supervisors voted 3-2 Feb. 6 not to renew the township's contract with the Shrewsbury Commons Shopping Center, which had hosted the farmers' market on Saturdays in the spring, summer and fall last year in its parking lot.
According to Supervisor Susan Fox, that vote "virtually shut down the whole farmers' market" for 2013.
She's invited residents and supporters to the next supervisors' meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, at the municipal building, 11505 Susquehanna Trail.
Fox said Shrewsbury Township has functioned as the market's sponsor since its beginning in 2011 on public property near the township's maintenance building. Fox said she has volunteered as the market's primary organizer.
She said the township's sponsorship has meant a small annual budget of about $500 and insurance coverage - the crux of other supervisors' opposition to remaining the market's sponsor.
Supervisor Gene Montanarelli, who voted against renewing the contract, said he believes the farmers' market exposes the township to liability. In a township already battling a number of lawsuits, that's not worth the risk, Montanarelli said.
"If somebody falls or gets hurt, who are they going to sue? They're going to sue the township," he said.
None of the lawsuits Montanarelli referenced are related to the farmers' market.
Montanarelli said he's been a supporter of the market since its beginning. He said he encouraged his children to open a stand there and even donated advertising space through his company.
"I think it's a great idea. I just think it's time for them to form a committee and go out on their own," he said.
Two other supervisors who voted against the shopping-center contract, Jeff Rennoll and Cynthia DeLeone, could not be reached for comment.
Fox, an insurance agent, said the market has not added to the township's insurance costs and, she believes, the township is at "no risk." Each of the vendor stands must buy its own insurance, she said.
Fox said she believes rural Shrewsbury Township is the perfect place for a municipality to sponsor a farmers' market. As many as 19 vendors set up shop on Saturdays in 2012, she said.
"It hasn't cost anything," she said. "And, even if it did, it would be money well spent."
- Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.