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Growers' Market may be downtown

A conditional use permit to close part of Main Street for a weekly Growers'Market will be considered Thursday by the Medford Planning Commission.

Main Street between Bartlett and Front streets would be closed from 4to 8 p.m. on Thursdays from July 17 through Nov. 24 this year.

The Planning Department staff recommends approval of the proposal, butwould require the Growers' Market to provide two portable toilets duringmarket hours.

The Growers' Market will also have to get the City Council's permissionto use the public right-of-way.

The weekly street closures coincide with the start of work on a parkinggarage at Sixth and Bartlett. The Medford Urban Renewal Agency plans toaward a contract for the structure as soon as the Legislature completeswork on laws affecting such agencies' funding.

We're tearing up the biggest parking lot downtown for the parkinggarage, said Don Burt, agency director. Parking will be at apremium.

The market will squeeze out two more blocks of parking, but it will alsoattract customers who wouldn't otherwise go downtown, Burt added.

Mike Webber, Urban Renewal Agency administrative assistant, said trafficcan be rerouted down Bartlett and Sixth streets.

This is similar to experiments we had last year, where we shutdown Main Street on four Friday afternoons, he said. There wereno traffic tie-ups.

A committee of merchants and growers that has been sorting out problemswill continue its work.

It will be inconvenient for some, but there is a group of peopleworking it out, Burt said. We've done the best we can, but younever know.

The Main Street market concept has been endorsed by the merchants inthe Heart of Medford Association, the Chamber of Medford/Jackson Countyand other groups.

Burt said Main Street farmers markets have been successful in other communities,including Davis and San Luis Obispo, Calif.

We're not the only ones doing this, he said. And wehave some fall-back positions if this doesn't work.

The market has been held in various locations, most recently adjacentto the Emporium at Medford Center. Before that, the market was next to Sears,but construction has made both locations unavailable this year.

Sears would like them back, and so would the Emporium, Burtsaid. They do bring in business.

The Planning Commission meets at 7 p.m. Thursday in the council chambersat Medford City Hall. The market proposal is the first public hearing onthe agenda.