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Farmers’ Market not going anywhere

BY AMANDA McCLURE | MARCH 25, 2009 7:30 AM

Community members prepared to contest a change in the location of the Iowa City Farmers’ Market were silenced by a swift City Council decision to cancel the proposed move.

The Iowa City City Council unanimously voted to kill the proposed ordinance on Tuesday night — before community members were given a chance to present their arguments and speeches.

“You’ve been heard without even having to address the podium,” Iowa City Mayor Regenia Bailey quipped.

Around 30 vendors and community members came out to speak against the change in location.
The proposed ordinance would have moved the Farmers’ Market from its current location in the Chauncey Swan parking ramp to an area on Iowa Avenue and Dubuque Street once each month.

“There’s so much hype surrounding this move,” Councilor Connie Champion said. “I’ve had more calls about this than I have about the flood.”

Vendor Bill Ellison has sold meat products for his company, Pavelka’s Point, at Chauncey Swan for three years. He said some of the issues with selling meat — like carrying coolers and keeping the products cold — are much easier to do with a roof.

“It’s the equivalent of showing up to your apartment and finding out you’ve been evicted,” he said. “They may decide to move it at a later date, but at least we’ll have meetings to discuss it before that happens.”

A committee of city employees is researching and discussing the business and traffic aspects of the move, but it has not yet come to any conclusion. The group is scheduled to meet with vendors and downtown business owners on April 9 to discuss expanding the Farmers’ Market.

The council memorandum states that “vendors and others are interested in expanding the farmers’ market to additional locations.”

“Everybody that I’ve talked to strongly opposes a move,” Councilor Amy Correia said. “It seems like it came out of nowhere. I don’t think we even need an ordinance for the location in the first place.”
Though the council didn’t dismiss the idea of moving the market all together, there was a clear consensus that the current proposal is faulty.

“I would like to see conversations later about moving to open air, but this isn’t the way,” Champion said.

City Attorney Eleanor Dilkes said the proposed ordinance was incidental and shouldn’t have been a council decision.

Both Dilkes and City Manager Michael Lombardo said community and planning committees needed to be consulted before any change in the market’s location.

“The only thing the ordinance does is take out the reference [in the memo] to the Chauncey Swan location,” Dilkes said. “The city doesn’t need to set an ordinance that states where the market has to be.”

The council also faced arguments from residents opposed to the construction of a new housing development in the southwestern Iowa City. The proposed 170 homes in the area would range from $200,000 to $700,000 and would be designed to bring more diversity to the area.

Residents objected to the project’s high density, the increase of traffic on Rohret Road, and the potential damages to surrounding properties during construction.

The councilors deferred a decision on the proposal, saying they need more time and information to discuss it.


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