Lawrence city commissioners decided Tuesday to go the extra mile to accommodate the popular Downtown Farmers’ Market.
A new location was being sought for the Tuesday market after new long-term parking was added in the market’s former home in the 1000 block of Vermont. Market organizers were adamant that the only appropriate location for the Tuesday market was in the same location as its Saturday market — the public parking lot on the east side of the 800 block of New Hampshire Street.
After considering many different options for the market, commissioners decided — over the objections of nearby business owners and the Downtown Lawrence Association — to bow to the market’s request to operate the Tuesday market at the same location as the Saturday market. Because the Tuesday market attracts fewer vendors, the expectation is that it will restrict its operation to the portion of the parking lot east of the alley, leaving the rest of the lot available to parking.
One of the locations the city was considering for the Tuesday market was a little-used parking lot owned by US Bank at the northwest corner of Ninth and Rhode Island streets. Market officials rejected that site, along with every other site suggested by the city, saying the Tuesday market had to be in the same location as the Saturday market to accommodate customers. Even if customers were looking for the market in the middle of the 800 block of Rhode Island, it seems likely they would find it a half-block to the south, but city commissioners decided to accede to the market organizers’ request.
The city also agreed to take responsibility for trying to negotiate a deal to use the US Bank lot for overflow parking on Tuesday afternoons when the city’s lot will be blocked off for the market. Never mind the confusion that could cause for people who may be allowed to park in the US Bank lot on Tuesday afternoons but not any other day.
The Downtown Farmers’ Market certainly is a popular attraction for Lawrence, drawing many local residents to both shop and socialize. The Tuesday market has always been significantly smaller than the Saturday market but perhaps, as organizers contend, having both markets at the same location will give a boost to the midweek event.
City commissioners certainly have done their best to work with the market organizers. Hopefully, moving the market won’t cause too much inconvenience for downtown merchants, employees and customers who normally park in the market’s new home. Also, it is hoped all parties realize the city’s action should not be viewed as guaranteeing the new location for many years. If it doesn’t work or if there are too many problems, city officials can and should make the necessary changes.