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Farmers market moving to vacant lot

Farmers market moving to vacant lot

May 9, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The city-owned vacant lot at 422 E. Main St. in downtown Riverton will be the new home for the farmers market this summer -- at least for now.

The Riverton City Council approved the location Tuesday after market organizer Sherry Shelley said she and the other organizers felt the lot would best fit the market this year.

Business owners had complained that last year's site on North Broadway Avenue interfered with customers and deliveries.

The council delayed in choosing a location for the market at the last city council meeting in order to allow market organizers to explore the possibility of placing the event along the Rails to Trails path, adjacent to Veterans Park near City Hall.

Shelley returned to tell the council Tuesday that the vehicle traffic from vendors on the paved trail might damage the path and cause access problems for vendors and customers. She also said the lively event might not fit with the memorial presence of the Veteran's Park, and visibility to the public would be limited.

The council then took more time to address the lack of off-street parking at City Park, which was another option for the market and one of the top picks for organizers. But vehicle access could pose some problems with current and future Federal Boulevard road construction, she said, eventually forcing the market to be moved again.

"We've given up the hope of sort of finding a permanent location anytime in the near future, not knowing what else may present itself," she said, adding that the park has no handicap accessibility. "

I think we really feel that in the long term future, City Park is the best place for us if we can resolve or find some way to have better off-street parking there."

Some council members didn't think the vacant downtown could hold all vendor and customer presence. Shelley agreed that once the market hits its peak season and vendor numbers double, more space would be needed.

"40 (vendors) was our peak last year, it will probably be more this year," she said, suggesting that a portion of North Fifth Street East could be closed to accommodate vendors.

The city parking lot between Broadway Avenue and North Third Street East was another option that could hold the market, but that would offer the challenge of vacating the desired area every Wednesday during market hours. The lot is used for business parking.

"The perception has been that it would be easier to ask those folks (at 422 E Main St.) to move their vehicles on Wednesday afternoons than to clear out some of the fairly established parking that is going on in the lot behind Kusel's," Shelley said.

Mayor Ron Warpness favored the vacant lot because he said it would help "stimulate downtown activity."

The market is planned to begin this month and last until the beginning of October. Hours are 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Wednesday.

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