When parks and markets meet

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HILO — A bill allowing farmers markets at several Hawaii County parks needs more time to ripen, the County Council decided Thursday.

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HILO — A bill allowing farmers markets at several Hawaii County parks needs more time to ripen, the County Council decided Thursday.

The measure introduced by Council Chairwoman Valerie Poindexter would designate six parks as areas for markets and received support from some testifiers hoping to see more options for locally grown produce.

But it also raised several concerns, including competition with existing markets and conflicts with recreational uses.

Poindexter agreed to postpone the measure after listening to feedback from other council members and several representatives of the Panaewa community concerned about impacts to their existing market. The Panaewa Park, located near the Keaukaha Panaewa Farmers Market, was among those on the list.

Howard Pea, chairperson of the market, said he was disappointed they weren’t consulted.

“We would have to compete not only for customers but for vendors,” he said during the Public Works &Parks and Recreation Committee meeting.

Poindexter said she didn’t mean any disrespect.

The resolution appeared to be spurred by the Parks and Recreation Department removing a market from the Hakalau Veterans Park.

Parks Director Charmaine Kamaka said they didn’t have a memorandum of understanding with the county authorizing its use. She said the market relocated to private land.

Poindexter noted the county code, which she was seeking to amend, only designates Waimea, Kona and the Honokaa County Park Complex as areas for markets on county land yet a market is allowed at the Cooper Center in Volcano.

The Cooper Center and Hakalau Veterans Park were on her proposed list.

Kamaka said the nonprofit that runs the Cooper Center has an MOU with the county allowing the market.

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“I think we need to work on the designated areas because right now it’s wrong,” Poindexter said. “Right now we’re allowing some to have MOUs when they are not in a designated area.”

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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