Call for bids should benefit Farmers' Market

Asking for a plan should reduce the disputes that occurred at the market.

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When all the smoke clears from this year's internal friction -- and strife -- at the Farmers' Market, new rules and a new outlook should be in place that should benefit the entire community.

That's because the city of Walla Walla has wisely not renewed its lease with the Walla Walla Valley Farmers Market and is now seeking proposals from interested operators.

The current organization might well get the lease, but that won't occur until its leaders can show city officials they have a solid plan in place that the squabbles between vendors, management and board will vanish (or, at least, be rare).

Apparently two organizations are considering seeking the lease -- the current operator and the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation.

Regardless of whether the threat of losing the lease spurred Valley Farmers Market organization to look inward to try to make positive changes, it looks as if that has taken place.

Bud Locati, vice president of the Valley Farmers Market board, said prior to losing the lease the organization had already planned on a number of changes to deal with problems between vendors and management.

"Some changes are to simplify rules a little bit, and we want to involve vendors in discussions and disputes," Locati said. He said the group also plans to bring in consultants to advise it on changes.

It sounds like this organization is serious about turning things around and it will likely submit a proposal that addresses the city's concerns.

The process of selecting operators should ensure Walla Walla Valley Farmers Market, or any other organization selected, will follow through with putting the plan into action.

City officials, according to the request for proposals, will consider the proposal that's "most advantageous to the city with respect to the business plan" and includes a "process for resolution of conflict in a professional manner."

The city's strong action in this matter should help make the Farmers' Market better than ever when it opens in the spring.

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