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Farmers market may sprout on Chardon Square
Farmers market may sprout on Chardon Square
By JOSEPH KOZIOL JR.
The City of Chardon will take another shot at a farmers market on Chardon Square.
John Bryant, representing the Chardon Square Association, presented plans last week to City Council for the fresh-produce market, starting in June.
Council unanimously passed a motion to support the market.
The city hosted a farmers market on the square about three years ago, but it eventually disbanded.
Mr. Bryant said, in his opinion, there may have been flaws in the first attempt, which the new market would address.
He said he has participated in several farmers markets in the area and cited one in Euclid as an example he believes would be successful in Chardon. In Euclid, the market is held on Friday evenings in conjunction with musical entertainment, he said. "They make it an event."
The previous Chardon market was a stand-alone Saturday-morning event.
Mr. Bryant said the Chardon Square Association approached him last November with the idea to resurrect the market. Vendors and city representatives that he approached offered a "resounding yes" to the idea, he said.
Pairing it with concerts, he said, would provide vendors with more pedestrian traffic and also serve to promote the square.
Mr. Bryant said the square association would provide coverage for vendors under its liability insurance, leaving the city free of that responsibility. He said he sought minimal involvement by the city.
The market, he said, would run from 4 to 8 p.m. and be held along Short Court Street on the square. It would be operated from June 5 to Oct. 9, he said. Vendors would begin setting up at 3 p.m. and dismantle by 8:30 p.m. He said the number of vendors would be limited to 12 in the first year and would be approved by a square association committee.
He asked that the city close Short Court Street by 3 p.m. and allow the restrooms in the log cabin on the square to be open for use by the public.
He said square merchants were "very excited" about the prospect of the market and some have said they may extend their hours during its run.
He said he believed the timing was right for such a venture.
"Especially in this economic climate, more and more people are looking to do things closer to home and looking for events they can take their kids to and not cost them a lot of money," Mr. Bryant said.
He said he wanted city approval for signs, which would advertise the market. Two signs would be placed at the ends of the planters on Short Court Street after the Maple Festival to promote the market. Four signs would be erected during the market at each corner of the square, he said.
Councilwoman Mary Bramstedt asked whether the dismantling of the market would disrupt the concert, which runs from 7 to 9 p.m. Many residents with mobility problems also like to use the street because they can access the concert easier.
Mr. Bryant said the proposed hours are flexible and will adjust to what is needed.
Councilwoman Deborah Reiter said the market could affect others than just the city. She said Geauga County Common Pleas Court is in operation during those hours and bands for the concerts often use Short Court Street to stage their setups.
Councilwoman Leslie Bednar said while she thinks the pairing of the two events is "phenomenal," she did have concerns about closing the street at 3 p.m.
City Manager David Lelko agreed, saying that the street may have to be closed earlier than 3 p.m. for the set up to allow those parked along the street time to get out.
Mr. Bryant said Short Court Street is the "ideal spot" for the market because it will create a "walk-through, bistro" type of location. He said some vendors will need to park there to be able to replenish their goods, while others can park at farther locations and bring their goods to the area.
Police Chief Timothy McKenna said he would be willing to allow the parking stalls to be closed off by 3 p.m., but did not want to close the street until Park Elementary School is dismissed for the day. He said the last bus leaves the school at 3:25 p.m.
Mr. Bryant said it might behoove vendors not to set up until 4 p.m. and continue operations until 9 p.m.
Council members appeared to support the idea.
Council President Karen Simpson said, "It sounds like a great activity to bring more people to the square and I like the idea of shopping locally."
She said the traffic concerns raised by council could be addressed between the Chardon Square Association and Mr. McKenna and Randal Sharpe, assistant to the city manager.
"I think it's a great idea," Councilman Philip King said. However, he said, he was worried about who would oversee the restrooms in the log cabin and whether the city would have to pay its workers to clean up afterward.
Mr. Bryant said the committee had already looked at those issues and vendors will patrol restrooms and clean up after themselves.
He said the market would feature specialty vendors, such as peach, strawberry and apple growers when they are in season. In addition, he said, the square association will strive to provide only local growers.
"We're trying to keep everything as varied as possible to give a great diversity for our customers," he said. "But we're also trying to stay as local as we can."
Trying to reach distant growers, he said, only means less control and no guarantee that the goods actually were grown locally.
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