By Grant Rodgers
Two local business owners and a city councilman expressed concerns on Monday night about how a new summer farmers market on the Indianola square might affect business and safety.
The new Market at the Square is set to run each Saturday from June 8 through Aug. 31. At its Monday, April 1 meeting, the Indianola City Council voted to close down Salem Street between Buxton and Howard between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. on the Saturdays to make space for the market.
At its meeting on Monday, April 15, two business owners with stores on Salem Street came before the council to share concerns about the closure. Though the move was already approved, both said closing down the entire street would limit access and parking.
Linda Hayes, an owner of Affinity Bridals, said she’s supportive of the effort to hold the market, but believes that limiting parking spots on the square on Saturdays will have a negative effect on her business. Saturdays are typically her busiest day for sales, she said.
Shutting down an entire street also inconveniences drivers who use Salem as a normal route, Hayes said.
“This is going to be a detriment, not only to some of the merchants, but to the public at large,” she said.
Hayes said she thinks that instead of just focusing on Salem, the organizers could move the market to different sides of the square each week.
Stan Taylor, owner of Taylor Floral & Gifts, suggested to the council that one lane of traffic could be left open on the street. With the current expected size of the market, there would be more than enough room, he said.
Hayes also recommended keeping one lane open, preferably the right lane next to the courthouse so that parking could still be available in front of businesses. Councilman Eric Mathieu, however, expressed concern that leaving a lane open with vehicles traveling adjacent to the market might create a dangerous situation.
Councilman Pete Berry also said that blocking the street off would limit access for emergency vehicles that use the route.
Mathieu and other council members said again that the market would be positive for Indianola and would bring foot traffic to the square. Two of the market’s organizers, also spoke at the meeting, saying that the market would bring beneficial traffic to the square.
”I think we need to do things like this, I think we need to be imaginative and do things out of the box like this,” said Councilman John Sirianni.
Even with concerns about parking and access, Hayes said she believes the market will bring economic benefits.
“I’m very glad and excited that we’re having the farmer’s market on the square,” she said. “I’m glad that it’s becoming a reality.”