Update (8:30 p.m.):
Graepel has released the following statement via the Babylon Village Farmer's Market Facebook page at 7:53 p.m.:
"We would like to address the events that have taken please over the last few days regarding the farmers' market. I misunderstood the Mayor regarding a year round market in Babylon Village. After meeting with the Mayor today, we were able to resolve any and all miscommunications regarding this situation.
I would like to let everyone know that the Mayor is not against the farmers market, he is there almost every week and enjoys it. I apologize for saying he was anti-farmers market, clearly this is not true.
As this season comes to a close we would like to Thank The Village & The Mayor for a great market. With just a few weeks left, we hope to see you Sunday!"
Original Story (5 p.m.):
Babylon Village will not be hosting a Winter Farmer's Market this year, according to village officials and market organizers.
The Babylon Village Farmer's Market, which currently runs every Sunday morning at the Long Island Rail Road parking lot at 8 a.m. since July 2nd, is still organized to run until November 16th.
"We said we want to stick with a summer Farmer's Market," said Mayor Ralph Scordino to Patch. "We have not investigated the results of this summer's market yet either."
Lona Graepel, the market manager for the Babylon Village Farmer's Market, said she presented the mayor with a proposal for an indoor farmer's market during the winter months about six weeks ago. She said, in an open letter posted on the market's and Babylon Village Patch's Facebook page, the mayor had decided against the winter market. Scordino said that he and the village's farmer's market committee had discussed the idea and decided against it.
"We don't want an arts & crafts fair," said Mayor Scordino, noting the lessened amount of produce in winter months. "It could take away from our village stores. I don't want to take away from our Business District." The village did invite Graepel to look into nearby areas for the winter, including West Islip and West Babylon.
"We didn't want to do that because we've been in this one location all this time," Graepel said to Patch. "People get used to where to find us."
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Graepel said she then sought the support of community residents and business owners, collecting over 200 signatures on a petition to the village to reconsider. According to Graepel, a recent phone call soon after between her and the mayor turned sour.
"He implied that he was [to] close the market before the end of the season," she wrote. The mayor denied this claim, noting the market would remain open until its November 16th end date.
"We had already decided against a winter market," said Scordino. "We won't move forward until we've investigated the market's effects further."
Graepel said the Long Island Farmer's Market, which supports the village's market, had been running Winter Markets for at least three years. Produce that could be sold includes carrots, potatoes, squash, beats and other root vegetables.
"You don't stop growing in the winter," she said. "It's a limited number of produce – you don't see what you see in an August market at a Winter market." Graepel did add that artisans, baked goods and dairy goods would also be a part of the market.
Graepal said two locations in the village – the American Legion post and the Masonic temple, according to her letter – has already offered their buildings for use and were ready to go come this winter.
"All I was trying to do was establish the residents wanted a winter market," she told Patch. Graepal added that she had found studies that show the mayor's concern – business traffic – increases during the market days.
"I don't see how a once-a-week Farmer's Market for five hours would affect businesses open seven-days-a-week," she said.
Patty Vorillas, president of the Babylon Village Chamber of Commerce, said she believes the mayor has the best interest of the village in mind.
"I love the Farmer's Market and its an asset to the village, but I was also concerned with the product for the winter," said Vorillas. "It's a good idea [the winter market], as long as it doesn't affect our merchants."