Lovers of fresh fruit and vegetables may need to change their Saturday morning plans in 2006.
Organizers of the Lawrence Farmers Market have renewed a push to move to New Hampshire Street to provide more customer parking and more vendor space for the growing market. The market currently is in the city parking lot in the 1000 block of Vermont Street.
"We hear a lot from customers who feel like they had to park so far away and it is hard for them to carry what they've bought back to their cars," said Jill Elmers, a vegetable vendor at the market. "It really limits what people will buy."
Farmers Market organizers told a city task force in March they would like the City Commission to allow the Saturday market to move into an 86-spot, city-owned parking lot on the west side of the 800 block of New Hampshire Street. The Tuesday and Thursday markets would remain at the current Vermont Street location.
None of the changes, if approved by city commissioners, would take place until spring 2006.
John Pendleton, a vendor and market organizer, said the new location would allow the market to add 20 vendors, allowing upward of 90 vendors to sell at the market at any one time.
But better parking may be the biggest benefit of a move, Pendleton said. Directly across New Hampshire Street is a 111-space city parking lot that customers could use. The proposed location also is adjacent to a cut-through in the middle of the 800 block that would make it easier for people parking on Massachusetts Street to get to the market. The proposed location also is one block away from the 510-space, city-owned parking garage in the 900 block of New Hampshire Street.
At the Vermont Street location there are about 85 city-owned parking spaces within a block of the market.
"At our current location, we're out of room for vendors, but I think most vendors would tell you the biggest problem is we're out of room for customers," Pendleton said. "This could really help with our parking."
The plan unveiled last month is different than previous proposals by market organizers. Previously there had been talk about the market moving all its operations to New Hampshire Street.
But several businesses in the area said the market, particularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, would take away too much parking from downtown employees. Pendleton said that was why organizers were proposing to move only the Saturday market.
The Lawrence Farmers Market, entering its 30th season, will open next weekend, two weeks earlier than its traditional start date.
Organizers said they moved up the start date after researching the opening dates of other farmers markets.
The Lawrence Farmers Market, entering its 30th season, will open April 30 in the 1000 block of Vermont Street. It will operate Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, events run from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Saturday market is open from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.