Financial woes plague Erie Street Market and CitiFest

TOLEDO -- The future of CitiFest is in doubt. The group is around $40,000 in the red, reports News 11's Rob Wiercinski.

But not everyone agrees with the presiding assessment of the problem, which is that the Erie Street Market's operating losses are actually why CitiFest is in financial trouble, as Board Chairman Brian Epstein told News 11 earlier this week.

The Erie Street Market is actually owned by the city, but CitiFest is in charge of its day-to-day operations. A request was made on Wednesday for financial records, but calls to Epstein have not been returned.

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner is challenging the claim that, saying CitiFest might actually be dragging down the market.

Against some daunting odds, vendors at the market are keeping a positive outlook for the future. But there's a deep concern the financial woes for CitiFest will affect their businesses.

"Oh, it will. Everyone that reads the newspaper, that's four more people who are not going to come down here. We are down here and have been down here for a year now," says vendor Pam Jackson.

Mayor Finkbeiner says a complete review of the CitiFest books is on the horizon. "The accounting, that needs a professional doing that and that's going to be launched very shortly," Mayor Finkbeiner told News 11.

The market manager wants to put an end to what she calls a growing myth about the facility.

"The Erie Street Market is not closing, absolutely not," says Connie Hoffman, who adds there's growing interest in filling up vacant market space.

"The market here -- we keep getting new vendors all the time. Bailey's Pizza, that's brand new -- and we have the restaurant out front and Van Andrews food is coming in," Hoffman says.

Both Hoffman and the mayor say even though the future of CitiFest is in doubt, the future of the market is not.

Posted by KO