Glenwood’s Downtown Market to take year off amid bridge work
Short of an 11th-hour solution, Glenwood Springs’ Downtown Market on Tuesday evenings in the warm months is being suspended for a year, a casualty caused in part by traffic controls required for the Grand Avenue bridge construction project.
Market organizers also say they could use a year to regroup and try to recruit some new people to be involved with putting on the seasonal market, as the core group has once again dwindled to a handful of people.
Logistically, the market was left to find a new location for this coming season as a result of the turn-lane closure onto East Eighth Street from Grand that is set to continue until the new bridge opens late this year.
In the meantime, left turns for southbound Grand Avenue traffic are being directed to Ninth Street, which is normally closed to traffic during the Tuesday afternoon and evening market that traditionally starts in late June.
Market representatives have been working with city staff to try to find a temporary location, and most recently thought they had a workable plan to use Axtell Park at the corner of 11th Street and Cooper Avenue.
However, due to neighborhood concerns and some second thoughts by organizers, the decision for now is to suspend the market for this year.
“The market board has made the very difficult decision to not open the market for what would be our 13th season,” the three-member board stated in a Monday letter to Glenwood Springs City Council and city staff. The letter also was posted to the Downtown Market’s Facebook page Sunday night.
“We have struggled, for months, to find a temporary home for the 2017 season,” the letter continued. “We thought we had a home in [Axtell Park] … but that finally did not work out.
“Our goal is to open again in 2018 with a fresh start, renewed energy, ideas and hopefully more board members,” the letter concluded.
City Manager Debra Figueroa said that, while Sayre Park is still on the table for consideration, it’s ultimately the market organizers’ decision how to proceed.
“We realize this is going to be a challenging year for a lot of people, but we are trying to support downtown events and encourage people to shop local and continue to support businesses,” she said.
According to the market’s lone founding board member, Cindy Svatos, the decision mostly came down to timing. With less than three months to secure a location and line up vendors and musical entertainment for the season, there’s just not enough time to pull it off, she said.
BEST TO WAIT
“We start meeting in January, and it takes a good four months to get this going,” Svatos said. “Our vendors need to plan for the season, and we just can’t keep them on hold.”
At the expense of essentially “unemploying” some 75 vendors, Svatos said she had to inform them to find options for this season in hopes they will return for the 2018 season.
Svatos said Axtell Park could have worked. The plan was to set up produce stands and other vendors in the park itself, without closing any streets, and arrange the stage so that the sound would carry toward Grand Avenue instead of into the surrounding neighborhood, she said.
But, with time running out to work through neighborhood concerns or consider another location, the board decided it would be best to wait a year.
“A couple of our vendors were also concerned about people finding us and whether they would do as well,” Svatos added. “We would rather put it off for a year and take our chance that [vendors] will return, rather than them having a terrible year and not come back because of that.”
Nancy Martin of Glenwood Springs, whose Wild Horse Orchard has partnered with Early Morning Orchard to operate a fruit and vegetable stand at the Downtown Market for several years, said she will have to look for another local market option to fill the gap.
“We do have a following, and I’m sure we can find someplace,” Martin said. “It’s nice to be able to have some local outreach and to look our neighbors in the eye and talk. Those are the things that make the local farmers market so appealing.”
The Downtown Market struggled to keep going a couple of years ago when several of its longtime board members stepped down, and some new blood was being sought. A few new people stepped forward at the time, but the organization is again looking for more involvement, Svatos said.
The year off will also buy some time to get the books in order and consider the long-term future of the market, she said. Although the Ninth Street/Centennial Park location is the likely venue when the market returns in 2018, its future home could be Seventh Street where the city and the Downtown Development Authority are planning a major redevelopment with several “festival street” amenities once the new Grand Avenue bridge is completed.
“By moving down there I think we could be of more help to the downtown businesses,” Svatos said. “That was the main reason we started the event, was to bring more vitality to the downtown, and I think we did that.”
In the meantime, suspension of the market for this year will have a “ripple effect,” she said, from leaving vendors and musicians in limbo to impacting city sales taxes and eliminating an option for low-income families on food stamps to buy fresh produce, after the market worked hard to accept those benefits.
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