Richland extends agreement with Market at the Parkway

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 4, 2014 

The popular Market at the Parkway in Richland will be around for at least another three years.

The Richland City Council in a 6-0 vote Tuesday agreed to extend a facility use agreement through the 2016 market season. Councilman Gregory L. Jones was absent.

The farmers market is held on city-owned property. The council's action came after about a half hour of public testimony on the market.

The comments were mixed, with several Parkway business owners, market vendors and customers saying they want to see it stick around.

Other speakers -- primarily business owners -- raised concerns, namely about the parking crunch that happens when the market is in session.

It's open on Fridays, with last year's season scheduled from June through October.

Andrea Kary of Kary Chiropractic Clinic told the council that she's not anti-market. But, "I'm anti-anything that interferes with my ability to take care of my patients" and the parking issue has done that. Almost 100 patients signed a petition to that effect, she said.

One of her patients told the council of her struggle to find available disabled parking.

Other speakers told the council that the market has been good for the Parkway and its merchants, as well as the community.

"It's vibrant," business owner Susan Brady said of the market. She moved into the Parkway with her Buckwheat Bottoms cloth diaper store last spring and watched business rise significantly once the market season started, she said. "I love it. On Fridays, I love going to work," she told the Herald.

The market has seen attendance and revenue grow steadily since it debuted in 2006.

Average weekly attendance was 880 in 2006 and 5,155 last year, according to information presented to the council. The total season sales last year, excluding participating Parkway merchants, was $599,000, compared to $110,000 in 2006, the information said.

The Richland Downtown Business Improvement District sent out a survey about the market to members, and a majority of those who responded said they supported another three-year market term. But, in a letter to the city, the group's chairman said some issues need to be addressed, including the parking problem.

Before voting on the facility use agreement, more than one city council member said they want to see the city do what it can to help.

"I urge both parties -- all parties -- to work together to make this continue to grow and be an integral part of Richland," said Mayor Pro Tem Phillip Lemley.

John Erben, who helps coordinate the market, told the Herald that organizers understand the concerns that have been raised and will work to address them.

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com

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