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Farmers market draws some complaints, but city opts to leave it at Broadway location

May 31, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The Riverton Farmers Market will remain on Broadway Avenue for its second season this summer, despite opposition from some downtown businesses.

The farmer's market, which is set to open this week, occupies North Broadway Avenue from Main Street to Fremont Avenue on Wednesday afternoons. Vendors set up at 4 p.m., and the event begins at 5 p.m.

Leslie Larsen, owner of a day spa at Main Street and Broadway Avenue, said the market has created a parking problem for her.

"It is supposed to be bringing business to downtown, but all we seemed to get out of the farmers market was a lack of parking on Wednesday," Larsen said. "A lot of people canceled their appointments."

She added that many market-goers also ask to use her restroom.

Other business owners near the Broadway Avenue location want the market to find a new home, but they did not attend a May 14 work session during which the Riverton City Council discussed the event's location.

At the meeting, councilmen Richard Gard and Lars Baker expressed concern about complaints they had heard from downtown business owners, like Larry Kusel, owner of Kusel's Furniture & Appliances at Main Street and Broadway Avenue. According to the councilmen, Kusel said the market blocks the delivery and customer entrances to his store. Kusel declined to comment for this story.

City Park

Baker and Gard advocated for City Park as a new farmers market location.

"Our goals are to take back the park," Gard said. "If we don't use the park, why do we have the park?"

Baker pointed out that City Park is equipped with public restrooms, and Gard said Main Street may be congested with traffic next year when Federal Boulevard is closed for construction.

Regardless, market organizer Sherry Shelley said she would like the event to stay on Broadway Avenue.

"There just isn't a lot of activity downtown," Shelley said. "I'd love to just help boost the retail merchants that are on Main Street."

Mayor Ron Warpness agreed that the event would bring business to the downtown area. He said he likes the Broadway location because the market was successful there last year.

Shelley said moving the market could set back its growth.

"We are trying to (do) everything to use the park," Shelley said, "but I don't think we should use that as an argument to lose everything you've done to be successful."

She added that another advantage to Broadway Avenue is its accessibility for wheelchairs and child strollers.

City administrator Steven Weaver said the vacant lot at 422 E. Main St. also has been suggested as a market site. Shelley said the lot would be too small for the market, and it is too close to Bomber's Sports Bar.

"That is kind of a concern," she said. "We really want our (event) to be a family thing."

The council was split in its first vote to move the event to City Park. Councilmen Baker, Gard and Jonathan Faubion voted to switch the location, while Warpness and council members Mary Ellen Christensen and Todd Smith voted "nay." Councilman Eric Heiser wasn't present at the meeting.

The council then considered a motion to locate the market on Broadway Avenue. Faubion switched his vote that time, and the motion passed.

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