School district, BID reach compromise on farmers market

Dec. 15, 2009

Menomonee Falls — The farmers market run by the Business Improvement District will remain in the North Middle School parking lot, W16750 Garfield Drive, next year, but traffic will be monitored during peak times.

BID board members and Superintendent Keith Marty worked out a compromise Tuesday.

Marty raised safety concerns after the school year started. North reopened in September with more students, staff and traffic. The school district had shifted around some grades, changing North from a school for eighth- and ninth-graders to housing sixth- through eighth-graders. The school went from about 750 students to almost 1,100. Staff increased by about 40 people.

As long as the market has been at North, Marty said, safety has been a concern, but more so this year.

"I am not anti-farmers market," Marty said. "We are sitting on a very dangerous environment there."

The BID runs the market at the school from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays from May to November and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays from July to October.

Marty had no problem with the market remaining at the school on Sundays and during the summer months on Wednesdays, but was hoping for a different location for the Wednesday market in spring and fall - when school is in session.

However, BID Director Barb Watters said the vendors are willing to make concessions - like closing early on Wednesday - in order to remain at North.

"They'll kiss your feet to not move," Watters said to Marty.

Watters said the vendors predict it would take two to three years to establish a market at a new location.

They discussed the possibility of hiring a crossing guard or police aid or finding a volunteer to monitor traffic.

Watters said she will charge vendors $5 more to pay for safety measures, including a traffic monitor. Fees for the 2009 season were $80, before April 1, or $100 for the Wednesday market and $40 for the Sunday market.

The school district also will try to move some of North's staff parking, about a dozen cars, to another location to help alleviate congestion. Marty said one option would involve asking the village for permission to use spaces at Village Park. Another option involved allowing the staff to use parking at Village Centre properties.

The market is a big attraction to the downtown area, Watters has said. Vendors booked all 45 spaces for the Wednesday market this past season; many were on a waiting list, she said. The Sunday market had 22 vendors, twice as many as last year.

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