Douglas County commissioners at their Monday morning meeting will be the first to hear the group's latest request to move the market from a 64-space lot in the 1000 block of Vermont Street to a 120-space lot in the 800 block of New Hampshire Street.
"For several years now we have consistently had more vendors apply than we've had spaces to offer," Barbara Clark, a member of the market's relocation committee, said. "We're at a point where we can't grow the market anymore."
In addition to seeking permission to use the city-owned parking lot, which is directly north of the Kansas Public Service building at Ninth and New Hampshire streets, market organizers would like government funding for several improvements including: canopies for 32 stalls to make the market more weather-proof, electrical hook-ups to serve several vendors and a permanent rest room facility.
Those improvements are estimated to cost $350,000, and group leaders are asking both the city and county commission to contribute $158,000 each to the project. But unlike previous requests, market members say they now can contribute up to $34,000 to the project.
Clark said she hopes their private investment, which she calls "good-faith money" will cause county officials to take a serious look at making a public investment.
"We look at the market as an incubation space for small business," Clark said. "It really is a place where small, agricultural businesses can come and grow, so we definitely think it has an economic development component to it."
Previously, when the group has tried to win support for the project at City Hall, impact the move would have on downtown parking has been a major stumbling block. The market operates on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and on Saturday mornings, and city officials have been concerned that the market may occupy parking spaces designed to serve downtown employees.
But Clark said group leaders have agreed to change the market's Tuesday and Thursday starting time from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in an effort to cut down on potential parking conflicts. On Saturday, the market opens at 6:30 a.m. and ends at 10 a.m., which Clark said shouldn't pose a problem for those trying to park.
- Staff Writer Chad Lawhorn can be reached at 832-6362.