Farmers market to return to Main Street

The Austin Area Farmers Market is headed back to Main Street.

That’s what the Austin City Council decided Monday evening through a 6-0 vote at a regularly scheduled council meeting. All council members were present, with Marian Clennon abstaining from the vote.

“The city of Austin and the private sector have invested a lot of money in the downtown area,” said Sandy Forstner, executive director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce. He said the farmers market could occupy a safe, visible area to bring people downtown.

Originally, organizers looked to the stretch of Main Street between Second and Fourth avenues, but city officials went with the stretch between Third and Fourth avenues directly north of El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant.

“Shutting down from Fourth to Second would make Third Avenue useless,” said Police Chief Brian Krueger, noting Third Avenue is one-way. While it’s too large a hindrance to drivers to block off both blocks of Main Street every week, Krueger said a few times a season, for larger events, it could work.

Fire Chief Mickey Healey agreed, saying an expanded area could be done and would take coordination with the police.

Forstner said businesses along the stretch of Main Street were on board with the idea. More foot traffic by their shops would likely mean more business.

Clennon said the fact that the farmers market had moved off Main Street three years ago was a cue that it doesn’t work there. The market spent two years at different downtown locations on First Street.

“Congestion was heavy in the past,” she said.

The farmers market will require the street to close from 3:30 to 6 p.m. every Thursday starting May 17.

 

The council also:

—Elected to pay off 2004 bonds on the Central Garage.

“We can pay them off early and save the interest,” said Financial Director Tom Dankert. He estimated the move would save the city $120,000 a year, half of which came from the general fund.

—Voted 6-1 with Marian Clennon opposed at a work session following the council meeting to schedule a vote on Vision 2020 for the next council meeting. The vote would decide whether to donate $10,000 to help jump start the community betterment project.

“It’s all going to the city of Austin,” said Mayor Tom Stiehm.

—Heard a presentation at the work session on the city’s finances. CliftonLarsonAllen accountant Kimberley Hillberg said there were no “red flags.” Out of 225 cities in the state that are Austin’s size, the city was near the very lowest in taxes at number 222.

“Overall, another good year for the city,” Hillberg said.

—Approved Sunday liquor sales for El Parral Ballroom.

—Approved a lease agreement between Austin Utilities and Northern Natural Gas.

—Authorized the Planning and Zoning Department to contract for junk and illegally stored vehicles to be removed from eight Austin properties: 904 Fourth Ave. SW, 708 11th Ave. SW, 607 10th St. SW, 107 Second St. SE, 1300 First Pl. SE, 1409 11th Ave. NW, 1915 Second Ave. NW and 611 First Ave. NW.

—Awarded five separate road construction bids and a house demolition bid at at 1700 First St. NE.

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