Vendors, organizers of Haleiwa Farmers' Market rally for support

Published On: Jun 18 2012 08:43:37 AM HST
HALEIWA, Hawaii -

The popular Haleiwa Farmers' Market was shut down Friday, but that didn't stop supporters from showing up Sunday demanding the market be brought back.

Whether they walked or drove, the sight of a nearly empty square was a huge disappointment for fans and farmers of the Haleiwa Farmers' Market.

"This is like telling us we can't breathe," said Brian Emory of Sunrise Shells Hawaii.  "This is everything for us.  This is our way of life."

"We have all this stuff laying around;  stuff we planted and now we got to figure out how to sell all this stuff," said farmer Aimoku Chee.

The market has been operating off Kamehameha Highway and Joseph P. Leong Highway for the past three years.  But, the state deemed the area a traffic hazard and unsafe for pedestrians.

After three extensions to find a new location, the state finally shut it down Friday.

Market organizer Annie Suite said it was too late for farmers who had already prepared to sell their goods.

"Today, this little space of land is losing $35,000 in sales in four hours," said Suite.

There have been several options for the market to relocate.  But, some say those options won't work.

"The Waialua Courthouse could house 15 of the 60 vendors and we still couldn't go because we've got to have an 18-foot clearance aisle and there's no space," said Suite.

Suite also said church members at Liliuokalani Protestant Church rejected the market because it would conflict with Sunday Mass.

Suite also said permitting at Waimea Vallye could take nine months and the market would have to pay $150,000 for a foot bridge.

On Friday, the governor said the state has been trying to help for more than a year.

"There has been some difficulty in understanding that this was a business proposition for a couple of people out there, and we're just not able to come to a conclusion for them," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

The governor's office said vendors had known about this deadline weeks in advance.

"To say that we didn't reach out -- we did," said Bruce Coppa, the governor's chief of staff.  "And again I think we've gone as far as we can.  The law is the law.  We have to enforce it."

Coppa said during the market's 3-year run at this location, vendors did not pay rent.  He added that other possible venues, such as schools, still remain.


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