Today I interrupt our regularly scheduled (lack of) programming to talk not about Radish & Rye or local food, but about the Broad Street Market itself. This week, we expect (hope) that Harrisburg City Council will hear a proposal to approve an agreement with the newly formed non-profit Broad Street Market Alliance for the management of the Broad Street Market and its buildings. I’d like to tell you a little about the new entity and the proposal, and ask for your public support of it.
In a nutshell, this proposal will bolster the Market’s current and future growth by:
- transferring management of the Market to a mission-driven non-profit organization focused on bringing a wide variety of fresh and prepared foods to the City (currently deemed a food desert);
- increasing community engagement through a “Friends of the Market” group, volunteer opportunities, and the direct election of one member of the Board of Directors;
- ensuring transparent representation of the Harrisburg community, Market vendors, and the City of Harrisburg on the Broad Street Market Alliance Board of Directors;
- increasing Market access to public and private grants for the upkeep and repair of its historic buildings, outreach programming, and more.
Currently, the Broad Street Market is managed by the Broad Street Market Corporation (BSMC), a for-profit entity that signed a lease agreement with the City of Harrisburg in 1999. The Board of the BSMC has navigated many challenges and difficult times in the intervening years, and has brought the Market to where it is today – vibrant, diverse, and thriving. The BSMC’s agreement with the City has expired, and the current BSMC Board of Directors supports the City signing a new lease and management agreement with the Broad Street Market Alliance.
Several members of the BSMC Board have also agreed to take initial terms on the Alliance Board, including current President Christian Herr, Amy Hill, Joshua Kesler, and myself, Julia James. Adding to our existing experience with the operations of the Market will be a diverse and highly qualified group of community members and vendors, including Melanie Cook, Ryan Hummer, Lou Lerant, and David Madsen, along with City representatives Jeffrey Baltimore (City Council) and Jackie Parker (Dept of Community & Economic Development). An additional seat is reserved for a yet-to-be-appointed representative of the City’s Public Works Department. Together, the Board comprises at least nine City residents, three current vendors (and one past vendor), and at least ten Market regulars. I am excited about how well-poised the new entity will be to steer the Market through continued growth while also continuing its awareness of the needs both of vendors and of the Harrisburg community.
The most significant departure from the existing (though expired) lease agreement, beyond transfer from a for-profit entity to a non-profit, is responsibility for the Market buildings. Currently, the BSMC is responsible for general upkeep and maintenance of the buildings, while the City of Harrisburg has been responsible for capital improvements and larger projects. Unfortunately, the City’s ability to fund this kind of work has not always aligned with the Market’s needs. We’ve recently been able to make many improvements to the buildings, but much work remains to be done. Under the new agreement, the Alliance will be entirely responsible for the two beautiful historic buildings, including routine maintenance and repair, structural maintenance, renovations, and capital improvements. The City, of course, will retain ownership of the buildings, and a Capital Improvement Plan will be submitted to the City for approval near the start of the lease term Following approval, the Alliance will be free to pursue that plan.
In the most basic and essential ways, this new lease and management agreement won’t change anything about the daily experience of coming to the Broad Street Market. Our wonderful Market Manager, Beth Taylor, will stay on, and all current vendor leases will transfer to the new entity. Behind the scenes, the new agreement will better position the Market to make long overdue repairs and upgrades to the historic buildings and the surrounding grounds, and to better serve the community it which it is embedded.
If you’d like more detail on the proposed lease agreement click here for the full document.
If you’re a Harrisburg City resident and like what you’ve read, please contact our City Council members to express your support for the plan, and, if you’re able, attend Wednesday’s City Council meeting to publicly voice that support during the public comment time.
Thank you for reading — and for being part of making the Broad Street Market the wonderful place it is!