Medford Market gets a reprieve

Hubbard's Hardware owner frees the co-op from its lease; group reshuffles its board

A lot changed for Medford's sprouting food co-op Tuesday: It was released from its rent agreement, the majority of the board resigned and a temporary board was appointed.

Bob Seus, one of the owners of the Hubbard's Hardware building in downtown Medford, said Tuesday that he has released the Medford Market organization from a lease on the building.

Seus said it's important for Medford to have a successful food co-op, even if he and his siblings lose their claim to collect thousands of dollars in unpaid rent.

"If they're in a position to continue, they can," he said. Seus' decision means the group will not have to dissolve the organization as planned. The lease had stipulated that as long as the organization existed it was liable for rent on the building. Co-op organizers face financial trouble and were due to dissolve the group on Thursday because of the lease.

Also on Tuesday, board president Velda Welch as well as board members Becky Brooks and Joan Parsons resigned. The remaining board members, Shareen Vogel and Paige Townsend, appointed interim board members until an election can take place in December. Those members include Medford City Councilmen John Statler and Ben Truwe, along with John Miele, Erika Robinson and Louise Dix.

Vogel said there are no hard feelings between current and former board members.

"We're all looking forward positively," she said, adding that she hopes people apply for the board.

"Anyone who is an owner is encouraged to submit an application," said Vogel. The applications will be available at medfordmarket.org online.

Statler, Truwe, Miele and Robinson are among several of the 1,500 subscribers who have been fighting dissolution of the organization and have accused the board of being secretive about its meetings and decisions.

After 21/2; years of effort, the Medford Market learned in August that its major lender, National Cooperative Bank, tabled a $1.5 million loan because of stricter lending criteria. The board made last-ditch efforts to gather the $1.5 million it needed to open its doors, but no large donors came forward.

The 1,500-member Medford Market has been leasing the Hubbard's Ace Hardware building at Main Street and Riverside Avenue for the past year, and had hoped to open the new store there this fall. Subscribers to Medford's food co-operative voted in October to dissolve the organization but with one stipulation: If it could get out of its 10-year lease agreement by Nov. 15, the Medford Market could continue on.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail mlanders@mailtribune.com.


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