Created on Thursday, 25 October 2007 06:28
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 October 2007 06:28
By Brooke Cunningham
I went to the meeting at the Town Hall in Warren, where we were supposed to discuss in a public forum why, after eight years, the Schoolhouse Market is being evicted by a small group called Rootswork from a town-owned building. At the meeting there was history about how these businesses began and operated for all that time, but it didn't reveal anything that seemed to precipitate the damaging move that was being discussed.
In summary it seems that the town rented an almost tear-down building to Rootswork for $100/year eight years ago. The Fallaices and Bruce Fowler were on the Rootswork board at the time and wanted to start the Schoolhouse Market on the first floor. Rootswork didn't need the downstairs, so eventually the Market began paying Rootswork $300/month as a home for the Schoolhouse Market. That seems pretty straightforward. It worked fine for eight years while the market found its footing and became a useful and popular element of the East Warren community.
Now it seems that there is something going on that nobody from Rootswork will explain. There were no facts given and no substance in any of the letters submitted to the paper from Mason Wade or the Rootswork board to explain it. There have been rumors spread about the market that seem, by the light of day, to be first of all untrue and second of all to be coming from Rootswork itself. Rootswork claims to have made the "hard decision" to evict the market from its home of eight years but will shed no light on why.
Mason Wade came to the meeting, but no other Rootswork board members did. He said that we should simply accept the board's decision. Mason stated for the board, presumably, that Rootswork wanted the space for a community coop (which the market endorses) and an organic market, which the market already is. He gave no insight, no reason for this eviction, and then he left before answering any questions about the board's motivation.
You can watch it on Channel 44 for yourself, but my take was that the market was being railroaded for some purpose known only to the Rootswork board which they weren't willing to air in a public forum. Every business has its issues but for one small group to destroy a long-established and community-supported business without giving cause is just not acceptable.
Rootswork fits all its requirements on the second floor of the building, and has for eight years. They are also accustomed to the level of rent that they are paying the town of Warren for the space. Fine. The Market fits well into the downstairs of the town building and is accustomed to paying its level of rent to Rootswork. My suggestion would be to let Rootswork pay its rent to the town for the upstairs which houses their offices and the radio station. Let the Market pay its rent to the town for the space that it currently uses.
If either one of these parties defaults, the town can make a decision about that. It is their building after all. But to let one small group inflict such damage on a long-established business in the town, especially without cause or explanation, particularly in a town-owned building, is just not who we as a community mean to be. I hope.
Cunningham lives in Waitsfield