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Catskill Village wins battle over Farm Market

Dec 09, 2010 10:15 am
CATSKILL — The Daily Mail reports this morning that the village of Catskill has won a small claims lawsuit that argued its decision to partially close Main Street to accommodate the seasonal farmers’ market negatively affected business at DiStefano’s Barber Shop. In a terse judgment, the story runs, Cairo Town Justice Tanja Sirago said the village “has been found not liable for any costs” laid out in the suit. Shop owner Pete DiStefano was seeking $3,000 in reparations, less than the amount he purports to have lost as a result of the road closure. DiStefano said Wednesday he was “bewildered” by the lack of reasoning in the court’s decision and that the outcome of the case “empowers” the village to do what it pleases.

The market — known officially as the Catskill Regional Farmers and Artisans Market — was held on Saturdays for 20 weeks starting in June, and the Village announced its move from Catskill Point last winter. The regular event became a gathering place for village residents throughout its run, and was deemed by all involved as a success.

DiStefano called the decision a “sad day for merchants of Main Street.”

DiStefano was not joined by any other business owners in the lawsuit, but a letter endorsed by more than a dozen merchants seeking a remedy to the situation was entered into evidence.

“I went there for them, too,” DiStefano said.

The letter stated “closing the street causes harm rather than good.”

The market — known officially as the Catskill Regional Farmers and Artisans Market — was held on Saturdays for 20 weeks starting in June.

It was announced months prior to the opening that the market, held for many years at Historic Catskill Point, was to be relocated, although village officials and market organizers were still hammering out the details.

In court papers, DiStefano said in April he told Catskill Village Vice President Jim Chewens a relocation to Main Street was welcome only if the road remained open. Closing the road, he said, would “inhibit vehicular traffic from passing any of the businesses, thus doing harm to those businesses.” He added detours would “frustrate and annoy people trying to use Main Street.”

It was announced in May that part of the road — two blocks from Church Street to the municipal marking lot — would be closed to traffic.

DiStefano told the village board of trustees of his intentions to sue Aug. 23.

In the court papers, DiStefano provided financial data showing a significant decline in business on weekends in June through October of this year as compared to the same period in 2009 — a sign, he says, that the road closure hurt his business.

The market was open from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. On Saturdays, the barber shop is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

DiStefano represented himself in court. The village was represented by attorney Peter Lauricella.

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