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DailyTidings.com
  • ASHLAND PARKING

    Don't park it at the market

    Lack of parking at the Tuesday farmers market has led to numerous citations in recent weeks, city officials say
  • Illegal parkers attending Ashland's Tuesday farmers market are catching the attention of city officials.
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  • Illegal parkers attending Ashland's Tuesday farmers market are catching the attention of city officials.
    In the last month, police have left about 100 tickets on vehicles parked in bike lanes, along the railroad tracks and in other places they shouldn't be while their owners pick through local produce and crafts at the popular market.
    On April 30, Ashland Traffic Enforcement Officer Steve MacLennan wrote 48 tickets in the area surrounding Ashland's National Guard Armory, the market's home for more than 10 years, said APD Deputy Chief Corey Falls.
    During the two weeks prior to that, MacLennan issued about 40 tickets to market-goers, Falls said.
    "Hopefully things are getting better," Falls said. "Steve has been working with the people at the farmers market to try to get that resolved. ... They are trying to get some delineators out there with some signs to give people a visual indicator that you can't park there."
    Mary Ellen De Luca, who coordinates the Tuesday market for Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market, said the parking scene wasn't as chaotic last Tuesday, but far from ideal.
    Since this season's market opened March 12, Wightman and East Main streets have been jam-packed on Tuesdays with vehicles trying to find parking near the market, legal or not, she said.
    Ashland's Planning Division contacted De Luca after the slew of parking tickets were handed out on April 30, and a city planner attended last Tuesday's market to observe the parking situation, said Ashland Community Development Department Director Bill Molnar.
    The city has control over a conditional-use permit that allows the market to take place at the armory.
    "They confirmed that there is just an incredible number of cars parked everywhere," Molnar said.
    Before this year, market attendees were able to utilize a large parking area behind the armory, but it has been roped off from the public since a half-dozen military vehicles were moved there from Medford's National Guard Armory during the construction of south Medford's Walmart Supercenter, De Luca said.
    National Guard officials told De Luca that, according to policy, civilian vehicles can't accompany military vehicles in the armory lot, she said.
    The National Guard did not return phone calls about the issue this week.
    Ashland's original conditional-use permit for the market calls for about 80 parking spaces to accommodate shoppers, Molnar said, but about 40 of those spaces have not been made available by the armory this year.
    "The military is working with us," De Luca said. "If we could take that parking lot like we've had in the past, that would help us out a lot."
    Market-goers are being asked to park at nearby ScienceWorks, she said, but not everyone is getting the message — or they are unwilling to make the two-block walk with arms full of produce.
    "We're trying to find creative ways to help people move between ScienceWorks and the market," De Luca said. "We're also encouraging people to bike or walk."
    The market is not in danger of being shut down, so long as something can be done about the parking, Molnar said. He described using the ScienceWorks parking lot as an "acceptable solution."
    "Our plans are to support these types of things. Growers markets add to a vibrant community," Molnar said.
    De Luca said she is confident a parking solution can be reached within the week and that the market will stay put at least through the rest of this year.
    "We have discussed finding a new location, and maybe it's time we do seek a new venue," De Luca said.
    The last time anyone counted, De Luca said — on a busy August day in 2009 — the market hosted about 2,500 people.
    "It's always growing ... more and more people are coming to market," she said.
    Molnar said the city will follow up with market officials throughout the remainder of this year to monitor the parking situation.
    Sam Wheeler is a freelance writer living in Talent. Email him at samuelcwheeler@gmail.com.
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