There have been several attempts in the past to bring a farmers market to Keizer. The last iteration was at Chalmers Jones Park—behind the Keizer Civic Center. That space is very nice public square but it is behind the center.
There is a better space to try a market again, one that would be highly visible and be accessible to thousands of vehicles: Salem-Keizer Transit’s center at Keizer Station. It’s improbable that weekend service for the region’s Cherriots buses will begin again anytime soon, leaving the transit center empty and unused.
There is space enough to plat many booths selling produce, arts and crafts. There is room for the market plus parking for customers. There is parking in Keizer Station across the railroad tracks as well.
Every retail business knows that one key to success is location. A market at the transit center would be visible from every roadway in that area. With the appropriate signage it would be difficult to ignore and its location there would almost guarantee that vendors would see the type of customer traffic they need.
The center is owned and maintained by Salem-Keizer Transit. Any use other than for its intended purpose will call for intergovernmental talks and an agreement. There are farmers markets throughout the Northwest, many in public spaces such as closed off streets or public squares. The transit district would have to be compensated and be assured that a market would not damage the infrastructure there. The comfort station would not have to be open; portable toilets would do just as well.
It is too easy for governments to get territorial over their assets, but the transit center is owned by the taxpayers. There should be no turf wars, only a desire to see an under used center have life on the weekends.
The city itself should not run the market, that should be left to a business organization, such as the Keizer Chamber of Commerce. Vendors can be charged a long-term fee (13 weeks and more) or a one-time fee, but the market will work best if consumers know if they go they will find the produce or crafts they want. Consistency in vendors is as a major part of a market as is the location.
Can Keizer have a farmers market? Some say that there is already a good Saturday market in downtown Salem. That should not be a deterrent—there are more than 12,000 households in Keizer and many more in northeast Salem and north Marion County. With the right management and marketing Keizer can turn an empty transit center lot into a bustling, vibrant market.