MALTA – Jim O’Connell says there will be “just about everything you can think of” at the flea market he plans to start next month at the Malta Drive-In, including a wide assortment of antiques, handmade crafts and even a reader of tarot cards.
On one Saturday each month starting on May 12 and ending on Sept. 15, according to O’Connell, a fee of $2 per vehicle will be charged to access the flea market at the popular drive-in theater. He indicated that $1 from each fee will go to charity.
“My plan for this thing is to make it a community event,” he said, with minimal noise or noticeable impacts on local residents. The other two Saturdays it will be open are June 9 and July 7.
Several years ago, O’Connell explained, another weekend flea market was started at the Malta Drive-In but did not succeed. He said the goal is to improve upon that experience.
O’Connell, who works full time as a marketing specialist at the CapCom Federal Credit Union based in Albany, conveyed how he has been involved with flea markets in his spare time for more than 20 years.
This new plan in Malta has received a “a tremendous amount of feedback,” he said, noting how the closest similar markets are set up farther south on Route 9, at the Guptill’s Roller Skating Arena in Cohoes, and in the Washington County fairgrounds west of Greenwich.
O’Connell estimated that the flea market fees would generate approximately $1,000 for the CapCom Cares Foundation, which supports local children and families.
Earlier this week, the Malta Town Board took an action related to the flea market by voting to schedule a public hearing at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 7 for the purpose of amending the so-called Caro Planned Development District (PDD).
According to Malta Supervisor Vincent DeLucia, a section of that particular PDD needs to be amended because it currently specifies that a flea market can operate at the drive-in between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
O’Connell said the new flea market will operate between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. only on Saturdays, as a means to avoid any potential traffic problems in connection with services at the St. Peter Lutheran Church directly across Route 9.
DeLucia noted how such a time change “extends the traffic pattern” and would benefit flea market enthusiasts who “want to get there early.”
Malta Councilman John Hartzell was the sole vote in opposition to the public hearing measure.
He opined that changing the hours of operation in the Caro PDD does not “strike” the right balance for residents who live near the Malta Drive-In.
“I wish them well with their business,” Hartzell said. “I think this goes farther than I am comfortable with.”
Yet DeLucia thinks the new flea market will be good for Malta.
“It’s supportive of economic development and brings people into the town,” he said.