Farmers Market to Move During Downtown Farmington Construction
Downtown Development Authority and city officials continue to work with merchants concerned about parking near their businesses.
The Farmington Farmers and Artisans Market will move this season, but not because of parking concerns raised on Jan. 28 by downtown merchants.
Farmington Downtown Development Authority (DDA) director Annette Knowles said Monday that construction on Grove Street adjacent to the market's home at the Walter E. Sundquist Farmington Pavilion will mean a temporary relocation of the popular market, due to potential "danger to the public".
"That decision was under consideration before the meeting (with merchants)," Knowles said.
The idea of moving the market's May 4 start date was considered, but the DDA has already promoted the date with vendors, Knowles said. The market will be located in the western-most parking lot on the south side of Orchard Street, behind the south strip mall in the Downtown Farmington Center.
Knowles said city and DDA officials held a "very well attended" meeting with merchants who shared their concerns about the lack of parking on market Saturdays. Merchants who attended the Jan. 28 meeting brought information they gathered on the topic from other area businesses.
"We haven't formulated any specific plans," Knowles said. "I anticipate having another couple of meetings before we come back with recommendations."
DDA board member Steve Schneeman said the market's temporary move would provide a look at how moving would affect the market. "I predict it will cut attendance by half," he said.
DDA board president Bob Rock said some parking spaces on the west end of the shopping center lot – near Fitness 19, Merle Norman and Farmington Center Florist – will be cordoned off on Saturdays, concurrent with the market season.
Knowles said all of the business owners like the market. She noted the market has grown beyond what was originally anticipated when the pavilion was built. And while it's important to address business concerns, she said, market master Walt Gajewski is concerned that making major changes could lead market vendors to move on to other opportunities.
"We want to make sure what we're doing supports (businesses)," she said. "On the other hand, our market has a good reputation."