Rather than face a lawsuit brought by a nearby shopping center owner at 2nd Street and Highway 101, the Newport Farmers Market has agreed to move to a new location just a block away. Shopping Center owner Bret Fox contended the vehicle congestion on Saturdays for his store tenants, caused by the Farmers Market, was severely hurting their income.
So the Farmers Market has agreed to re-locate to an area slightly to the south and west of the shopping center. Their new location will be centered generally at Lee and 7th. Businesses in those areas operate primarily Monday through Friday. No business in that area objected to the market becoming a neighbor over the upcoming spring and summer.
Shopping Center owner Bret Fox said he fully supports the Farmer’s Market. But between the market crowds and their cars, it’s made the shopping center very difficult to access – especially for parking. Fox said a proposal was floated by the market to have a security guard screen cars going into the shopping center parking lot. Fox strongly implied that who would want to shop where you have to get permission to park from someone in a law enforcement uniform? Fox added that cars trying to get in and out of the shopping center cause dangerous back-ups onto 101.
When asked what he would do if the city continued to allow the Farmers Market to remain there, Fox said flatly he would go to court to stop it. Fox quickly added that the Farmers Market is a great asset to the community, and is extremely popular – so no matter where it’s located it would be just as successful. Market officials said they prefer to stay right where they are because they’re easily seen by passing motorists on 101.
City Councilor David Allen noted that court cases can take a long time to be resolved – certainly longer than the Farmers Market season coming up. At that point a representative of the Farmers Market came to the microphone and announced they’ll move the market to Lee and 7th because losing a season, due to legal delays, is out of the question.
The council, which had just come out of a closed-door executive session involving the Farmers Market issue, instructed City Manager Spencer Nebel to issue a new permit for the new 7th and Lee location. Additionally, the city will paint a crosswalk across Second Street to accommodate market patrons who park in the courthouse parking lot and the city will fix street potholes in the area for pedestrian safety.
This should be the last temporary location for the spring/summer Farmers Market. Next year it should be able to return “home” to the parking lot on Angle on the south side of City Hall which they’ve had for years. Currently that lot is covered with machinery and building materials related to the construction of the new Aquatic Center. All that should be out of there well before the Farmers Market season starts up again this time next year.
In other council action, the council approved a tally of long term city goals. Those goals are quite lengthy and can be see in an earlier News Lincoln County story written on Sunday. There were some addition goals added that pertain to more emphasis on better promoting the arts in the city.
The council also formally applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for a grant to buy out seven homes along NE 70th which were condemned right after heavy rains last December. Rain soaked ground caused the ground underneath the homes to weaken and slide down the canyon – severely damaging two, and leaving five others threatened with eventual destruction. City Manager Spencer Nebel said the grant application is not a sure thing but added that based on the nature of the damage it would seem that the city would be in a top tier among communities seeking FEMA funds to help tie up loose ends from last winter’s storms. Word on whether the city gets the money should come fairly soon according to Nebel.