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Farmers market staying at Plaza

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Vendors not happy with city

By Mercy Lopez

Tri-County Farmers Market announced on radio Wednesday that the farmers market would move its Saturday selling location back to Sixth Street and University.

Not so fast.

Jarrod Phillips, manager of the farmers market, said Thursday that the market will remain at the Plaza Park on Saturdays for the remainder of the season.

Phillips said the regular market vendors are unhappy because they don’t feel the city has lived up to its agreement. The market moved Saturday’s location to Plaza Park earlier this year.

Phillips said the market board and several regular vendors no longer wants to be at Plaza Park. But he said the board held an emergency vote on Wednesday and decided to stay there due to bylaw requirements which prohibit the market from changing  locations in the middle of a season. Nevertheless, 19 vendors want to return to their original location, the parking lot behind the Immaculate Conception School.

Farmers “were taken care of at their original location,” Phillips said. “The city said they would take care of them, and they haven’t. Farmers that attend the market regularly don’t want to be there anymore.”

Acting City Manager Elmer Martinez said the city has worked with the farmers market as much as it can.

Phillips said some of the issues include not having portable restrooms for vendor use, not enough parking, and trash containers not being readily available near the market, located on the south- east end of the park Saturday mornings.

Martinez said the city has been supportive of the farmers market, but due to the anti-donation clause and overtime issues, the city’s hands are tied on what it can provide.

“We are really supportive of the farmers market,” Martinez said. “This is an important service for the community that many use. It is something the community really appreciates and looks forward to.”

He said the city offered the use of restroom facilities at the Las Vegas Police Department, located near the vending site.

Martinez said the city also makes traffic control barrels available for pick-up on Friday afternoons. Phillips said one market vendor currently picks up the barrels and puts them up for traffic control Saturday mornings.

As for the portable restrooms, Martinez said it isn’t feasible for the city to put them out for vendor use due to overtime costs the city would incur.

“It is not realistic to put them out for five hours,” Martinez said. “This will have a financial impact to the city. And due to the anti-donation clause, we can’t do that.”

Phillips said a Plaza Park business has since opened its restrooms for vendors to use.

As for the lack of trash receptacles,  Martinez said the city also would have to charge the market $25 per rollout each Saturday — something Phillips said the market cannot afford.

Another issue is the traffic problems stemming from the market’s  being on the Plaza Saturday mornings. Martinez said the city had a traffic plan conducted before the special event permit was signed. He said the plan was developed to ensure the safety of all involved, such as pedestrians, market attendees, traffic and vendors.

Martinez said he has met with Phillips to try to remedy the situation. He said he is concerned about a potential space issue that may emerge with the coming of the harvest season.

“I don’t think the current space at Plaza Park will be enough space when you get all the farmers in,” he  said. “We will see how it works out.”

Martinez said he is working with city staff and will work with farmer’s market representatives to figure out a permanent location for the market for next year’s growing season.

“There has been some miscommunication,” Phillips said.