An Open Letter to the Community on the "Missing Link" Trail Project

To our neighbors, friends, vendors, and the community at large: 

As many of you already know, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has invited the public until August 1 to comment on its "Missing Link" route options to complete the Burke-Gilman Trail.  In accordance with the public comment period, the Seattle Farmers Market Association (SFMA) would like to state its position for the record. 

SFMA fully supports SDOT’s plan to complete the “Missing Link” of the Burke-Gilman Trail. A continuous route is the right and safe thing to do, and SFMA supports safety and access for all. In its Draft Environmental Impact Statement, SDOT has identified four possible routes to complete the trail: Leary Avenue, Shilshole Avenue (North), Shilshole Avenue (South), and Ballard Avenue.

Ballard Avenue, one of the four proposed routes, is also the footprint of the Ballard Farmers Market. If it were chosen as the “Missing Link” route, this is what would happen:

  • Ballard Avenue would lose 193 parking spaces in an already congested area.
  • The historic landscape of Ballard Avenue would change. As stated in the city’s report, the Ballard Avenue route “could have impacts on features that contribute to the historic significance of the Ballard Avenue Historic District.”
  • The Ballard Farmers Market would have to close for several months during construction.
  • The design of the trail and changes to the sidewalk would narrow Ballard Avenue, significantly reducing the space for the Ballard Famers Market to operate -- that is, if the Ballard Farmers Market could return to Ballard Avenue. The market could be relocated and permanently shut down. The Ballard Farmers Market is home to 140 small businesses. Together, with the 93 businesses along Ballard Avenue, that’s a total of more than 220 family businesses that contribute to the local economy and that make Ballard the jewel that it is.  

In addition to the year-round Ballard Farmers Market, SFMA operates two seasonal farmers markets in Madrona and Wallingford. Now in its 16th year, Ballard Farmers Market moved to historic Ballard Avenue in 2003 and has become a beloved fixture of Ballard for both Seattle residents and out-of-town tourists alike.

On average, more than 14,000 people come to Ballard Farmers Market every Sunday; annually, attendance is more than half a million. As stated earlier, the market is home to more than 140 small business owners, a combination of Washington state farmers, food processors, prepared food companies and artisans, who together employ more than 400 people contributing to the regional economy. Last year, these vendors earned a combined $4.5 million in sales.

For every dollar spent at the Ballard Farmers Market, it has a multiplier effect of 1.75 times (an average around the country calculated by the USDA). This means that the same dollar, spent at the farmers market, stays in the community an average of 1.75 times. It also translates into 1.75 jobs, additional to the farmer job, is supported by every purchase at the market.

In 2015, Ballard Farmers Market donated 25,000 pounds of food to the Ballard Food Bank, the equivalent of $65,000.

EBT sales for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants was $22,000.  Low-income residents receiving SNAP/food stamp benefits redeemed an additional $17,000 in Fresh Bucks, a program that matches $10 for fresh produce purchases.

To reiterate, SFMA fully supports one continuous Burke-Gilman Trail, and the access and safety for all that use it, as well as improving predictability for motor vehicles that use the roads. We respectfully request that SDOT consider the potentially devastating toll on Ballard’s small business community – and its residents -- that would result with the Ballard Avenue trail option. 

Thank you for the consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Doug Farr

General Manager, Seattle Farmers Market Association