May not survive in all the “progress” in Historic Downtown

 

Loveland, Ohio – “I have spoken and met with Donna about moving the Farmers’ Market to an alternate location outside of the downtown area,” said Loveland City Manager Dave Kennedy. He was responding to the community push to return of the Loveland Farmers’ Market (LFM) to the Jackson Street Market this spring. Donna Bednar, founder and market manager of the LFM, hopes to return to Historic Downtown after a one-year hiatus last year at the former [pull_quote_left]“I realize this is difficult because I’m asking the market to move from where it started.” – City Manager Dave Kennedy[/pull_quote_left]Loveland Lanes next to Kroger on Loveland Madeira Road. Kennedy continued, “I realize this is difficult because I’m asking the market to move from where it started. It is particularly difficult because when I worked with Donna to move to the bowling alley last year, I had hoped that the market could return to downtown this year.”

A community group has formed to help persuade city hall that the market can only survive if it returns to its original location. The Friends of the Loveland Farmers’ Market is growing rapidly and plans to bring a large number of supporters to the next council meeting on February 9 in a show of support.

Kennedy said, “My concern is that the downtown area simply can’t handle the traffic the event brings in due to how it has grown in popularity. My hope is that we can find a location that works well for the market while not adding to the downtown traffic congestion.”

[pull_quote_right]Halie Rebeccaschild and Ellen Mershon are hopeful that parties come together to work toward solutions that work for everyone.[/pull_quote_right]Representing the Friends of the LFM, Halie Rebeccaschild and Ellen Mershon sat down with Loveland Magazine Thursday for a video interview touting the benefits of LFM to the community and to discuss the traffic and parking concerns Kennedy and some downtown business owners are concerned about.

fran 10:2015They are hopeful that parties come together to work toward solutions that work for everyone.

Donna Bednar told Loveland Magazine on January 12 that LFM, operating since 2010, may not open for the 2016 season. The market usually runs from May to October on Tuesday afternoons. Its original site was where the Loveland Station Apartments have been built. Because, that city-owned property was sold, Jackson Street Market was built on land owned by the Loveland Firefighters Association so that LFM would have a permanent home. Jackson Street Market is on the Loveland Bike Trail between Bob Roncker’s Running Spot and the Brown Building, home of the Loveland Music Academy. Both the firefighters and city taxpayers paid for the construction. During construction of the apartments last year, LFM moved to the temporary home of the former bowling alley, with the promise they could return in 2016 to downtown. This fall the bowling alley was demolished and the city is actively marketing the land.

Loveland Mayor, Mark Fitzgerald would not comment on whether a permit would be issued for the LFM return, instead deferring the question to the city manager. He said in an email, “Dave Kennedy is dealing with this. I’ve found him to be very cooperative with our businesses and am certain he will help them out anyway he possibly can.”

Fitzgerald recently created a stir when he did not re-appoint Bednar to a spot on the city Beautification Committee. As a result, the remaining committee members resigned en-mass on January 12. (Beautification committee resigns en-mass at Tuesday council meeting) Mershon said, “If there is any political thing going on – which I hope there’s not, I hope there is a misunderstanding and I hope that all of this can be resolved, and we can work together collaboratively to make this happen rather than being polarized.”

Kennedy said, “While I realize this is not popular, and certainly not something I took lightly, I think it is for the good of the city as a whole at this time. The Farmers’ Market is important to the City of Loveland. The market brings in many visitors and helps support our local businesses. My intent was not to simply say no, but try to help facilitate moving it to another location within the city.”

[pull_quote_left] “With regards to the Farmers’ Market not coming back to Downtown Loveland, I agree with the decision.” -Loveland businessman, Tim Canada[/pull_quote_left]In an email exchange that Bond Furniture owner, Tim Canada shared with Loveland Magazine and written to The Friends of LFM,  he said, “With regards to the Farmers’ Market not coming back to Downtown Loveland, I agree with the decision. Not because I am against the market! I have shopped at the market as have my employees.” He said he believes it is a good resource for the city. However, his take is that the downtown area cannot handle any more traffic congestion.

Canada also expressed dismay that when the market operated in downtown, neither market vendors or customers respected the private parking at his business directly across the street on Karl Brown Way. He said, “Yes the market officials did what they could to keep vendors and patrons from taking up private parking places, but it still happened hurting other businesses in the area. We experienced on a regular basis parking in front of doors where we could not get people or products in or out. Parking in the grass on one side of my building leaving tire tracks when wet. The thing that bothered me the most was large trucks pulling in to unload in our parking taking up multiple parking spots that customers could use.”

Canada also said that if the market returns it will also face the same access challenges that every other business faces. “The traffic issues are not going away. The market should look at relocating on Loveland Madeira Road. Permanently.”

Rebeccaschild said the market suffered a thirty-per-cent loss in sales last year on Loveland Madeira Road.

[pull_quote_right]Canada also cites what he called, “Non-equitable competition.”[/pull_quote_right]Canada also cites what he called, “Non-equitable competition.” He explained in his email:

The market is not truly a farmers market, it is more like a mini version of Traders World.
Yes, they do have vegetables and fruits grown locally, but they also have trinkets, retailers, and restaurants selling products directly against existing downtown businesses. For example, there were ice cream and pizza (from outside the city) vendors selling  products that if the market comes back to the area will directly compete with downtown businesses. Yes, competition is good! But, why should the market vendors have the advantages of city-sponsored rent, no taxes and no income tax paid on employees wages when there are long established and new businesses paying those expenses to have their doors open to serve the community on a daily basis!
[pull_quote_left]Rebeccaschild believes a little communication and friendly cooperation would resolve many of the issues. Who is willing to have this discussion?[/pull_quote_left]Rebeccaschild responded:
It’s my belief that further discussion around the economic benefits of the Loveland Farmers’ Market to the historic district will prove its value to businesses far outweighs any temporary inconveniences, especially when a little communication and friendly cooperation would resolve many of the issues. Who is willing to have this discussion?
Friends of the Loveland Farmers’ Market can be found on Facebook.
Learn more about the Loveland Farmers’ Market.
fran 10:2015
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10 COMMENTS

  1. OMG …. I just knew the women that run this little market would want to jam it back downtown.
    They don’t care about the traffic jam is causes. Nothing better than sitting behind some confused
    driver at 48/Paxton/Hannah while they try to turn left so they can buy some $3 tomato.
    This needs to be over on the Hamilton side somewhere. Not Jackson St, not 3rd Street, not Grailville.
    It should not be allowed within a mile of the bridge.
    Over on Loveland-Maderia somewhere, or Lebanon Rd, anywhere but downtown.
    Or better yet, just do away with this market. Grow your own vegetables in your back yard.
    Start your own garden. Grow your own food. It’s really not that hard. Just takes a little time …

    Grow your own FOREVER.
    Downtown Farmers Market NEVER !!!!

  2. Hi, Jen. Thank you for your thoughtful comments and questions. Given the number of questions you’ve posed here and that many of them require extensive research to answer, we’ll prepare to respond to non-research related questions at the council meeting, in other words, those within our power to answer within a short period of time.

    Re: parking and overall traffic questions to the city, we have many of the same. We do not believe, however, that parking is an issue for the market, especially given that the city leveled a significant amount of greenspace by Loveland Canoe & Kayak for the McCoy lot, 100-140 spots (supposedly available in Spring 2016, per Loveland Chamber of Commerce). Just for your info, the parking lot map and the Walkable Loveland map are both available from the Chamber which give an exact count of spots (not including the new McCoy lot OR the two overflow lots). Per the Chamber president, CeeCee Collins, parking is not an issue for the market in 2016.

    Note, the city uses overflow parking on route 48, across the O’Bannon Creek bridge, regularly for theater and other events, and a similar walkable lot on Riverside Drive is currently for lease. By using these lots for events, some of which are far larger than the market, the city would solve much of the car problem (it’s not a foot traffic problem but a car traffic problem because businesses in downtown rely upon foot traffic to survive. We believe it’s important to discern between the two).

    Given the location of these two walkable lots on both sides of the city, it’s well within the ability of the market manager to ask able-bodied people to walk to the market, which would prevent them from having to drive through the city at all. This would minimize automobile use of roads significantly, leaving only vendors and less-able bodied persons to park in the newly paved McCoy lot.

    Re: location, yes, Donna continues to work tirelessly on finding a suitable alternative. She has not given up; however, FOLFM want the city to get behind the market and return it downtown where exposure and walkability are maximized.

    We believe the downtown area is central for Loveland residents, many of which can easily walk to the market, especially (but not exclusively) the senior citizens at The Trails at East Loveland. We also believe that the city actively brought The Trails and Loveland Station downtown to further create a “Walkable Loveland,” which includes a walkable farmers’ market. We disagree that they don’t have to explain why the market is the single event being ejected from downtown based upon “traffic” (as if the traffic the market brings is bad while traffic from the Summer Concert Series, etc. is good). As I said in my last paragraph, it’s unclear why market traffic is considered bad, especially when it can be solved by using overflow lots, getting people out of their cars where we want them.

    Again, thank you for the questions. Obviously, some of them cannot be answered within a timely manner, as they require significant research that I doubt either the city or the market can afford to complete. We do appreciate your willingness to consider our responses, as we believe moving the market will result in far less visitors, lower sales, and a significant decline in vendor participation.

  3. Some interesting and legitimate concerns have been raised here by Tim Canada. In particular, if the Market returns to downtown, the city and market must have a plan in place to address and prevent encroachment of private parking.

    I am also curious if it is true that market vendors “[pay] no [sales?] taxes and no income tax …. on employees wages.” Groceries are obviously exempt from sales tax, but if other market products are exempt it would be helpful to understand why. Likewise, do market vendors really pay no income tax? Does this refer to local, state, and/or federal taxes?

    Tom Calarco responded to Daphne: “[Y]ou obviously have no clue of the value of a Farmer’s Market, and you’re dead wrong, there is plenty of parking in Loveland that won’t require ten minutes of walking.”

    Feelings and emotions are running high on this topic. Many of us feel strongly that there is inherent value in having a Farmers’ Market nearby, and enjoy visiting the market (I haven’t actually heard anyone speak up against farmers’ markets as a concept!) But I know there must also be others who, like me, are ambivalent, confused, and/or undecided regarding the best location for our Market. That discussion will be more productive if its focus shifts to facts over feelings. The Friends of the LFM seem committed to a solution: bringing the Market back downtown. Others have offered legitimate concerns as to why that is a bad idea, and some have suggested alternate venues.

    Unfortunately for the Market vendors, shoppers, and supporters, it is not incumbent upon the City to make a case for refusal to issue a permit for the Market to return to downtown Loveland; nor is it the City’s responsibility to identify alternate Market locations. Therefore, the Friends of the LFM must compile pertinent information (facts and figures, not emotional appeals) to make their case to the city manager, Dave Kennedy. I have brainstormed a few ideas below. It’s a long list and data are probably not available for all of these, but many should be easy to obtain/calculate.

    What IS the value (i.e. economic impact) of a Farmers’ Market – both to the city and to the individual vendors? There is obviously plenty of non-monetary value but that is more difficult to quantify; still, attempting to do so with surveys, man-on-the-street interviews, etc. would provide very useful information.

    Is there a quantifiable POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE impact on nearby local businesses due to Market activity (e.g. positive: people come for the FM and visit other businesses while they’re here; negative: direct competition and traffic/parking problems that keep people away from the shopping area during Market times)? The West Loveland Ave. business owners doubtless have some numbers that speak to this question.

    In the unlikely event that the city has done or commissioned traffic studies – was there a quantifiable, significant impact on downtown traffic that can be attributed to the FM? What was the nature and extent of this impact?

    How many visitors does the market receive? How has this varied from month to month, year to year? I know Donna Bednar has tracked this data … surely someone could crunch a few numbers in an Excel spreadsheet (if it hasn’t already been done). How does this translate into number of parking spots that are needed to accommodate market shoppers without causing a significant impact on other shoppers/visitors (i.e. people who come to Loveland to use the Little Miami Scenic Trail, Nisbet Park, etc.)

    How many parking spots ARE there within a 5-minute walk? A 10-minute walk?

    WHEN will the city implement the recommendations it received from the committee that was formed less than 2 years ago to address this very issue? Chief among them was a wayfinding plan: clear permanent signage all around town that would indicate the location of free, public parking.

    WHY has the city refused to even test the suggestions for improving downtown traffic flow – in particular the excellent proposal laid out right here in Loveland Magazine regarding the intersection of Loveland Ave. and Karl Brown Way (where the bridge over the river spits out into downtown)?

    WHAT other things is the city doing to improve traffic in general? If the answer is, essentially nothing, then the market presence downtown will clearly continue to contribute to massive traffic delays at peak hours, especially if inadequate parking forces would-be shoppers to drive around & around waiting for spots to open up.

    WHERE are potential alternate locations for the market? Many people throw out ideas and suggestions but I would bet Dave Kennedy has a list of city-owned properties that would be a great starting point for adding private properties that have been mentioned, such as the Shoppers’ Haven. I’m sure Donna Bednar has worn out some shoe leather approaching many potential market “hosts” and already knows pros and cons that she could share.

    WHERE do the FM customers come from? If a significant number come from one side of town or other, the Market should be considering locations in those areas as well as in Loveland proper – i.e. Symmes Township, Miami Township.

    It has been said that market sales were down 30% in 2015 versus 2014. Is this a market aggregate or an average over all the vendors? Can any specific causes/contributing factors (reduced number of visitors, more days with very bad weather, reduced number of vendors, different mix of vendors, etc.) be identified? It would be very helpful to see sales data in a graphical display such as a stacked line graph with data points for each month. Even more useful, sales data by category, i.e. fresh/raw fruits & veggies; meat/eggs/cheese; breads/baked goods; prepared foods; plants; non-food items. While the Trader’s World comparison was inappropriate, it is true that the market is not a true “farmer’s” market; and the sustainability of small farms is a key driver for many supporters of such markets. Offering additional goods for sale certainly doesn’t hurt that core mission, and may help it by drawing in shoppers who would not have come just for the produce – and who then may leave with some!

  4. Why not have it at one of the City parks that are mostly empty at that time of day? Home of the Brave Park comes to mind.

  5. There is the seldom-used Masonic Temple lot next to the senior residence, which is at the corner of Third and Loveland Avenue, and there is the large, empty space along Route 48, just across the bridge. Both of these are about a two-minute walk. In addition, I was told there is a large space that the city has developed for parking nearby.

  6. What a wrong comment. Daphne, you obviously have no clue of the value of a Farmer’s Market, and you’re dead wrong, there is plenty of parking in Loveland that won’t require ten minutes of walking. And actually, for some people who understand the value of fresh, local, organic produce, ten minutes of walking is well worth it.

  7. Local farmers markets are cool and quaint and certainly serve their purpose. One might ask exactly who’s purpose they serve. The local residents? Local business? The vendors? The egos of those involved in such endeavors? The handwriting has been on the wall since day one, the LFM’s downtown location possibilities were slim to none. To say parking is a “problem” is the understatement of the year. Parking is going to be a problem in the historic downtown district from now on. Lack of planning and previous city councils’ caving to the gun-to-the-head demands of developers has seen to that. The head scratching fact that the LFM couldn’t have anticipated such, and failed to make future plans, no matter what they may have been led to believe (hey Donna, this is City Hall we’re talking about here. You of all people should know how unpredictable such political winds can blow.) Hopefully reasonable people from all sides of this issue can come together with reasonable alternatives and solutions. Hopefully it won’t be taking thirty minutes to find a parking space to walk ten minutes to pay $3.00 for that perfect “local” tomato.

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