Beginning in July, market officials will have the authority to close Block Avenue, Mountain Street and East Avenue to traffic during the Saturday market. Center Street will remain open to drivers.
The changes might not seem like much for regular market patrons. City law already allows closure of East Avenue on Saturday mornings. Mountain Street is also regularly closed for safety reasons due to high pedestrian traffic during the market.
The closure of Block Avenue will likely be the most noticeable addition. Besides removing traffic and adding more vendors, the change in policy allows the option to add food trucks on the north and south corners of the street, something market managers have said they’ve wanted for years.
Ward 1 Alderwoman Adella Gray was the only council member to vote against the changes. Gray has stood strong in her opposition of an expanded market since the idea was first proposed in April.
“We all love the Farmers’ Market, but bigger is not always better,” Gray said last month before suggesting re-opening Mountain Street to appease the owner of Tim’s Pizza, a vocal opponent of the downtown market. The impact of closing the six parking spaces in front of Tim’s has been a recurring theme for Gray, but she failed to gain any support for her concerns.
Several other changes were also approved Tuesday as part of the new policy, including adding language to ensure nonprofits, advocacy groups and political candidates would be integrated with vendors around the square; an amendment requiring dog owners to clean up after their pets; and allowing amplified sound during the market if a special permit is approved by the city.