Bethesda Farmers Market Falls Victim to County Transportation Department
Press release issued March 28, 2012
The Montgomery County Dept. of Transportation is forcing a popular Sunday farmers market out of Bethesda's inner core. The Bethesda Central Farmers Market was denied a permit to continue using Elm Street. The county claims that this change is necessary because of the construction-related closure of Woodmont Avenue south of Bethesda Avenue.
The closure was denounced by the Action Committee for Transit as unnecessary and harmful to residents and businesses. The market will move to the parking lot of Bethesda Elementary School, half a mile away from the street life of downtown Bethesda. Customers will come and go by car, no longer bringing business to local stores. “And it's completely unjustified,” added ACT's Ronit Dancis. “There is no car traffic on Sunday mornings.”
The Montgomery County Dept. of Transportation is forcing the market from the location in which it built a strong following over the past three years. On summer days, it has forty vendors and about one thousand customers. Residents and local restauranteurs rely on the market for fresh, local produce. Located by the Capitol Crescent Trail, local morning favorites Bethesda Bagels, Dunkin' Donuts and Quartermaine’s Coffee, the market allowed locals to combine walking, biking, breakfast and produce shopping into active weekend routines. Now it will be a half a mile away in a commercial dead area surrounded by closed offices and an empty school.
Can this local institution survive forced removal from the heart of downtown?
Update (April 2) - In its first day at Bethesda Elementary, April 1, the Farmers' Market ran out of parking at 9:30 am.
Meanwhile, the excuse given by MCDOT for kicking the Farmers Market out of a location far more accessible on foot and across the street from a 700-space garage — the need to allow cars onto Elm Street to prevent traffic congestion — proved to be a sham. There was, of course, no traffic on Elm Street on Sunday morning.