By Christiana Lilly | New Pelican Writer
LBTS – After more than two hours of debate and public comment, Community Farmers Markets of South Florida won its bid to remain in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. Company won against Florida Fresh Markets, the only other bidder [RFP] from the city.
Community Farmers Markets of South Florida has held the city’s weekly farmer’s market for nine years without a contest. It also manages the Pompano Beach, Tamarac, Plantation and Broward Health Imperial Point markets. However, bids from other companies were accepted last year, in accordance with the city’s new policy on bidding when a contract has expired.
A three-person committee reviewed both nominations and recommended Florida Fresh Farms, which operates 21 markets in South Florida, the majority of which are in Miami-Dade County.
“What we’re aiming for is to bring in a bit more momentum, just to maybe create something a bit more beautiful, to add vendors that maybe could add value to the market, and that’s what we’re looking for,” Iris said. Casanova, the founder of Florida Fresh Markets.
However, community members, vendors, Community Farmers Markets of South Florida leaders and even a representative speaking on behalf of the president of the Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Chamber of Commerce spoke to the commission. in favor of maintaining the market. it’s like that. They praised the market’s personal touch and asked the commission not to fix something that isn’t broken.
“There are things to be said about loyalty, there are things to be said about the relationships that are formed. These are all really important things,” Vice Mayor Edmund Malkoon said in defense of community farmers markets.
One issue that came up during the discussion was that the Florida Fresh Markets application was not notarized, which was a requirement. A company representative said he accidentally downloaded the wrong version of the app and hoped the commission would decide based on their merits, not a technical error.
However, commissioner Theo Poulopoulos, who is a lawyer, said that was enough for him to dismiss the request without looking any further.
“My position is that this is essentially a request for a government contract, which needs to be notarized, which needs to be certified,” he said. “It’s not.”
City Attorney James White said part of the request allows the city to “reject a proposal with or without cause for any reason” as well as “waive any irregularity or formality.” Commissioner Randy Strauss, who is also a lawyer, said he believed the application could be accepted because of this stipulation.
Regardless of what they think of the notarization issue, the commissioners shared that they would like to see the farmers market grow.
In the end, the commission voted 4 to 1 to accept Community Farmers Markets’ application; Mayor Chris Vincent was the only dissenting vote. He explained that it’s nothing against community farmers’ markets in South Florida, but that he feels they owe it to the city to “always have an open mind and a fresh vision.”