City leaders, vendors discuss West Side Market's future in front of packed house

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CLEVELAND (WJW)– The future of the iconic West Side Market was the topic of a community meeting Tuesday night.

It was a packed house for Ideastream’s monthly “Sound of Ideas Community Tour” at Market Garden Brewery on West 25th Street in Cleveland. The panel featured Cleveland Chief Operating Officer Darnell Brown, WSM Tenant Association President Don Whitaker and Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack.

The West Side Market is operated by the city of Cleveland. In response to calls for change, the city announced its 2020 goals, which included utilizing the second floor, making the market more environmentally friendly and a new plan for the nearly-empty produce arcade. McCormack said council allocated $2 million for 2020 and an additional $3.5 million for the next two years.

“The market needs to be someone’s number one priority. It needs to be a person or an entity that wakes up and goes to bed thinking about the West Side Market,” said Amanda Dempsey, community engagement director for Mitchell’s Ice Cream and former manager of the West Side Market.

Last month, Turczyk’s Meats announced it was leaving the market on West 25th Street after 36 years. In October, Kate’s Fish said an employee was shocked by a defective wire.

Rocco Whalen, owner of Fahrenheit and frequent guest on FOX 8 News in the Morning, was also on the panel and criticized the city for allowing exceptions to health codes at the market. He recently volunteered to run the West Side Market on Twitter.

“There are a lot of things wrong. I want to help make things right. I want to make sure the city knows that I love and honor it in every way,” Whalen said. “There’s an opportunity for the city to listen to the community, listen to the businessmen and women of the community, but also, work together, hand in hand to make it great with our fine councilman.”

“I’m here to help. I’m here to lend expertise. But I’m also here to put the city on blast because things take a lot longer with the city of Cleveland.”

More stories on the West Side Market here

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