CHANGE - Merchants back effort to place event on 21st Avenue
by: Chase Allgood, Vendors offered their fresh produce and flowers during last week’s farmers market.

It looks as if everything is lining up for the Forest Grove Farmers Market to move downtown as early as next week.

Tentative plans are to change the market's location from the 19th Avenue Plaza to a section of 21st Avenue between College Way and Main Street beginning Wednesday, July 12.

Since mid-May, the farmers market, which is in its second year, has operated in the plaza's parking lot between Horton's Office Supply and Tupper's Home Furnishings.

Local merchants appeared to be in favor of the switch, indicating in a recent letter to City Manager Michael Sykes their desire to see more foot traffic downtown.

Signed by Brian Wilbur, immediate past president of the Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce, City Club President Michael Moore and several business owners, the letter, dated June 22, also proposed combining market activities with merchants' 'First Friday' activities to create a 'First Wednesday' atmosphere downtown.

Sidewalk sales, artist demonstrations, wine tasting and live music have all been part of 'First Friday' in the past.

'One of the things we're interested in is economic development,' Sykes said of the proposal. 'It seems like (moving the market) would provide a natural draw to the downtown.'

The city's public works department last Thursday approved a request by market organizers to close one block of 21st Avenue, the section ringed by Pacific University to the east, Forest Grove United Church of Christ to the south, Main Street to the west and the Pacific Creamery building to the north - from 2-9 p.m. every Wednesday.

The public market offers food, craft, music and children's activities from May to October.

Public Works Director Rob Foster said his department issued a street closure permit for the one-block area to be reserved on Wednesdays from 2-9 p.m.

'We approved what they asked,' Foster said.

Bridget Cooke, executive director of Adelante Mujeres, the nonprofit group that operates the market, said she informed her vendors the move would likely take place next Wednesday.

Market officials originally hoped to move by today, July 5, to avoid a conflict with Tupper's Home Furnishings' annual tent sale, held this month.

'We decided to put it off a week to get everything in order officially,' Cooke said.

Sykes, who met June 28 with Foster, Forest Grove Police Chief Glenn VanBlarcom and Fire Chief Robert Mills about the matter, gave a thumbs-up to the market's new plans.

'We met as a staff and we think it's a very good idea,' Sykes said.

The only caveat required by city planners and engineers, Sykes said, was a 12-foot travel lane down the middle of 21st Avenue - wide enough for emergency vehicles to get by

'That's a safety issue,' Sykes noted.

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