Parking may soon make way for produce in a portion of downtown Lawrence.
Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday will review a request to allow the Downtown Lawrence Farmers’ Market to use a portion of a city parking lot in the 800 block of New Hampshire Street to host its weekday market.
But the request has changed from what was proposed a month ago. Leaders with the Farmers’ Market now have decided to cancel their Thursday markets and instead focus on markets on only Tuesdays and Saturdays.
They also have dropped their request to set approximately a dozen booths in a landscaped area of the city parking lot.
“We are trying to do what we can to increase our chances of getting this approved,” said Avery Lominska, a board member for the Farmers’ Market.
Market organizers said they are badly in need of a new location for their weekday market. The proposal would move the weekday market to the same parking lot that hosts the organization’s Saturday farmers’ market.
The market is seeking a new location for its weekday market because the city parking lot in the 1000 block of Vermont, which has hosted the weekday market for a number of years, has become more crowded with the development of the Treanor Architects office building adjacent to the lot.
The new request would place the weekday market in the same parking lot that hosts the popular Saturday Farmers' Market, which is not proposed to change. Lominska said operating the weekday and Saturday markets out of the same location has become critical to the not-for-profit organization.
“It simplifies our marketing,” Lominska said. “We can promote one location pretty well, but it gets difficult for us to promote two locations.”
City commissioners will have to decide whether they think the market is worth the number of parking spaces that it will occupy. Depending on where the market is placed in the city parking lot, which is a long-term lot along the east side of New Hampshire and the west side of Rhode Island streets, anywhere from 19 to 24 parking spaces could be lost on market days.
The option of using the landscaped area of the parking lot for booths would take only a handful of parking spaces, but City Clerk Jonathan Douglass said concerns about the location had arisen.
The option would have required the removal of a hedge that serves as a screen between the parking lot and homes along Rhode Island Street. Parks and Recreation leaders also worried about the health of the other plants and trees in the landscaped area.
But Douglass said he also has heard concerns from area businesses about the amount of parking the new proposal would take.
City staff members have compiled a list of other locations where the weekday Farmers’ Market could be held. They include the city-owned lot just north of the former Carnegie Library at Ninth and Vermont; the city lot at the southeast corner of Sixth and Massachusetts; the city lot along the 600 block of Rhode Island Street, just south of the Riverfront Parking Garage; and the city lot at Second and Locust streets in North Lawrence.
Lominska said the market’s board doesn’t consider any of those locations appealing because those sites would continue to keep the weekday and weekend markets in separate locations.
City commissioners — as of Monday afternoon — were still scheduled to meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday, but city officials acknowledged weather conditions could cause the meeting to be altered.