If the council agrees with city staff next week, the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market could be open an extra hour – until 2 p.m. – on Saturdays.
But that’s not all. The monthly First Thursday event might be getting a new neighbor beginning in April, as the council will also discuss allowing the open-air market to add the first Thursday of each month to its summer schedule.
Typically, the market sets up shop on the square on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, while operating its Mill District Market on the corner of MLK Blvd. and School Ave. on Thursday evenings.
Farmers’ Market organizers had originally requested to occupy the north and west sides of the square every Thursday evening during market season from 4 p.m. to dark, but city staff is recommending to only allow operation on the first Thursday evening of each month.
This would throw a kink in the plan, though, said market organizer Chuck Rutherford at yesterday’s City Council agenda session. “We were going to bring the Mill District Market to the square every Thursday evening. We thought that would benefit the vendors and also the customers in knowing where to show up,” said Rutherford. Only being allowed on the square one Thursday evening each month will be confusing for everyone, he said.
“One of the concerns that I have is shutting down the whole square every Thursday and blocking off the streets, said Mayor Lioneld Jordan.
The market already operates on Thursdays from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. If operation was extended to those evenings as well, the businesses around the square would basically have their parking cut off for the entire day on Thursdays.
“But the merchants like it, don’t they?” asked Alderman Brenda Thiel, of the added foot traffic that events like the Farmers’ Market and First Thursday bring to the square.
Not necessarily, says Don Marr, chief of staff. According to Marr, some downtown merchants have expressed concern over having their parking spaces occupied all day on Thursdays during the summer months.
“We were just trying to find a compromise between all three groups,” said Marr, in reference to the merchants who are concerned about parking, the artists who want to have control of the First Thursday event, and the farmers who are looking to move more of their market to the square. “It’s just a matter of trying to find a balance.”
The City Council will continue the discussion during the next meeting on March 16.
Ordinance Amendment Details
PROPOSAL: The Fayetteville Farmer’s Market Board is requesting an ordinance to amend Chapter 114.02 Farmer’s Market to authorize the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market to occupy the interior downtown square parking spaces on the east side of Block Street and the south side of Center Street for Thursday evenings in April through November to start no earlier than 4:00 p.m. and ending at dark. They’ve also requested that the ending hour for the Farmer’s Market be changed from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday.
RECOMMENDATION: In an effort to increase evening activity in the downtown area and customer traffic for the downtown merchants, City staff recommend approval of an ordinance to amend Chapter 114.02 Farmer’s Market to authorize the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market to occupy the interior downtown square parking spaces on the east side of Block Street and the south side of Center Street for the first Thursday of each month, April through November, to start no earlier than 4:00 p.m. and ending at dark.
Staff does not recommend that the amendment include every Thursday during the evening hours for Farmer’s Market but feels that the first Thursday of each month would be acceptable because of the First Thursday Fayetteville event held in the downtown area that evening.
Staff recommends that the ending hour for the Farmer’s Market be changed from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday.
BUDGET IMPACT: There is no budget impact.
Source: City Council Agenda Memo, February 24, 2010