Lacey City Council mull ways to improve community market

Staff writerMarch 6, 2014 

With Huntamer Park a civic hub already in place the city of Lacey, with input from the public and key community members, has developed a 24-point plan to re-energize the Woodland District, a 200-acre section of the city that is enclosed within the Chehalis Western Trail, Pacific Avenue, Interstate 5 and College Street.

STEVE BLOOM — The Olympian Buy Photo

The Lacey City Council Thursday night discussed ways to take the city’s community market at Huntamer Park to the next level, including the possibility of a new venue for a market that will turn 10 this year.

The market shifted to a community market in 2008 after vendor commitment for an earlier farmers market wasn’t as strong. Since then, though, vendor participation has grown to an average of 80 vendors in 2013 from 67 in 2008, city data show.

Although vendor participation has increased, attendance has fluctuated for the community market that takes place the second Saturday in July, August and September.

And attendance fell to a new low of 3,450 last year from 4,570 the year before, city data show.

The four council members in attendance for Thursday night’s work session -- Virgil Clarkson, Michael Steadman, Jeff Gadman and Deputy Mayor Cynthia Pratt -- agreed that visibility is a challenge with Huntamer Park because is it not exposed to a great deal of passing traffic.

“It is an exceedingly good spot, but it’s just not visible,” Clarkson said. 

Pratt added that the community market doesn’t benefit from the spur of the moment decision that might be made by a passing motorist to stop at the market.

Pratt, too, said the ideal kind of exposure would be that offered by the triangular-shaped lot at Golf Club Road and Pacific Avenue, once occupied by a Titus-Will dealership.

She acknowledged that her comment was only half-serious because it’s not city-owned property, although several agreed that lot would be ideal for increased visibility.

Clarkson also pointed out that the Woodland Square Loop area around Huntamer Park is home to about 240,000 square feet of vacant office space. When those buildings were filled with workers, there was more awareness about the community market.

“Those folks are gone now,” he said. “We don’t have that visibility from their perspective.”

But the city is working toward re-energizing that area of Lacey with a new strategic plan, which led Gadman to remind his colleagues about that goal.

“It might be better for consistency to suffer through the location at Huntamer Park for another few years and allow that area to undergo its transformation,” he said, adding that the office buildings might be filled by then and South Puget Sound Community College’s relocated Lacey branch will be up and running.

No venue changes are planned for the market this year. It is once again set to take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Huntamer Park during the second Saturday in July, August and September.

 

Rolf Boone rboone@theolympian.com 360-754-5403

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