City Council hears Farmer’s Market concerns, approves budget

Christie Smith

The Ames City Council heard concerns about the Main Street Farmer’s Market at a regular meeting of the council Tuesday night.

The Ames Chamber of Commerce presented a proposal to the council for the Ames Main Street Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from May 7 to Oct. 15.

Swank’s Jewelry submitted a letter to the city manager requesting the market be moved to another location. Swank’s said in the letter that it thought the location of the market hurt it by limiting access and traffic.

The Main Street Cultural District conducted a survey of business owners downtown and found that 87 percent of business owners favor the current location of the market.

Several local businesses attended the meeting to voice their support or concern for the market.

Rick Swank, of Swank’s Jewelry, proposed several alternative locations for the market. Swank said the market could possibly be moved to the City Hall parking lot or 5th Street, where most of the businesses are closed Saturday.

“It’s about promoting the local shops,” said Lojean Petersen, Farmer’s Market manager. She said the market brings a lot of attention and traffic to local businesses along Main Street.

Tim Gartin, Ward 2 councilman, suggested that Ames could reorganize the market to have the vendors facing the Main Street businesses rather than use the businesses as a “back drop.”

Larry Goodale, owner of The Grove Café, said he thought the market should move behind Main Street to allow for more parking and a better flow of traffic. He said he was worried about his elderly customers having to park several blocks away to walk to his business.

Vendors and community members who attended the public hearing spoke in favor of the current location, many citing the “ambience” of downtown Ames as the ideal location for the market. 

The council members voted unanimously to approve the resolution for this year’s Farmer’s Market on Main Street, but said they would continue to discuss and consider potential alternatives for next year’s market.

Council members also voted 6-0 to adopt the fiscal year 2016/17 budget. The council had a series of budget meetings in February to review and finalize this year’s budget. After hearing public input and considering amendments to the budget, the council adopted the budget two weeks before the state’s March 15 deadline.

The budget includes additional local funding for CyRide, the city’s leading public transportation system. The city has awarded a nearly 5 percent increase in CyRide funding this year to help the transportation system hire and train new drivers, as well as improve CyRide routes, shelters and storage facilities.