YOLO SUN NEWS REPORT :
Downtown Main Street merchants between First and Third Streets in Woodland have written a letter (published below) to City Hall vigorously complaining about the recent, sudden and totally unnoticed closure of this portion of Main Street during Saturday mornings, as a new location for the Woodland Farmers’ Market.
Main Street has been closed in this manner since May, from 6 a.m. until about 1:30 p.m., which severely cramps regular business, while not balancing such distress by the creation of sufficient new business to compensate, indicates Woodland Gold and Silver owner, Brandon Hodges, who wonders why undermining longtime downtown merchants is necessary to help evolve the longsuffering Farmers’ Market.
“We’re part of the core of downtown commerce and shouldn’t be injured in such a thoughtless way,” says Hodges, referring to proximate and peeved downtown business proprietors. He relates tales of various city problems, frictions and nonsense, arising during these several Saturdays of Farmers’ Market occupation.
Saturday Morning Conflict
“Saturday mornings in the summer are prime business hours,” declares Hodges, “people like to get out and shop when it’s still cool. Closing off Main Street at this time is a huge and unreasonable intrusion.”
Of course, such is precisely the cool-morning, business-timing theory of Woodland Farmers’ Market, although conflicting with downtown commerce because of this Main Street closure, unless and until it reaches satisfactory, justifiable attendance levels.
Freeman Park would be a much better market location during this summer, strongly believes Hodges and merchant cohorts.
Installation of a traffic-signaled crosswalk over Main Street, between Freeman Park and the new county courthouse, should become a beneficial factor for this market location, these merchants envision.
Current location of Downtown Woodland Farmers’ Market is apparently being partially driven by the willingness of two downtown merchants in this vicinity to allow public use of their restrooms during Market hours. Hodges describes being told that the City doesn’t want to pay for portable toilets, although such toilets are being used at the Tuesday Woodland Farmers’ Market located near Woodland Memorial Hospital.
For decades, Woodland Farmers Market has struggled to discover a real home, fluctuating locations from Main Street (a long time ago) to Heritage Plaza to Freeman Park to County Fair Mall and Woodland Memorial Hospital.
Closing Main Street to accommodate the present phase / dimension of downtown Farmers’ Market activity is unjustified, believes this group of merchants, who clearly express their being — “deeply offended” — by the obtuse way the City of Woodland has handled these affairs.
Murky City Responses
Woodland City Manager, Paul Navazio, has responded to Hodges with the following remarks:
“Brandon – than you for forwarding your email and letter. We are aware of concerns expressed by some businesses and it is helpful to have then clearly articulated. City staff will confer with the Farmers’ Market to address concerns as best we can under the current arrangements and agreements we have in place. We will keep the Council members apprised as to our progress….several of them have relayed businesses’ concerns, and we also have a Downtown sub-committee that can assist, as needed, in this regard.”
Hodges expresses great apprehension about what Navazio means by: “Address concerns as best we can under the current arrangements and agreements we have in place,” fearing that this city position intends to continue on the present course of Main Street closure, through October, an especially unappealing prospect for “severely impacted” downtown merchants.
Contacted by Yolo Sun, Woodland Mayor Tom Stallard seems to recognize the growing existence of a serious problem. “I’m already working on another solution,” responds Stallard, although he hasn’t yet revealed the nature or details of this other “solution.”
Letter to Woodland City Hall :
I [Brandon Hodges] am emailing this letter on behalf of the many Downtown Woodland businesses being negatively affected by the current location of the Saturday Woodland Farmers Market. Those businesses affected include, but are not limited to, Woodland Gold and Silver, The House Dresser, Corner Drug Company and The Gifted Penguin.
[Hodges indicates his belief that several other proximate businesses also heartily endorse this letter and will become signatories.]
Being strong supporters and contributors to the economic wellbeing of Downtown Woodland, we would like to address the First to Third Main Street closure every Saturday from 6am to 1pm, sometimes later. First, we must say we have been advocates of the Farmers Market and encouraged them to join us Downtown at Heritage Plaza. However, we are strongly opposed to closing Main Street every Saturday.
This closure has severely impacted our sales and access to our businesses in the following ways:
1. No customers, therefore no sales.
2. No sales, therefore no sales tax revenue.
3. No parking availability for two full blocks, barriers send customers off of Main Street away from businesses and a majority of our Saturday customers are those driving down Main Street.
4. Allowing market vendors to park on Main Street obstructs the view of businesses from potential customers.
5. Lunch time is generally the peak of Saturday business, Main Street being shut down until after 1pm has caused a massive decline in that business.
6. Access to businesses is limited to walking traffic only and many of our customers are elderly and not highly mobile.
7. There are no vendors between Second and First Street even though the street is closed.
8. The market is small and does not draw a large number of customers.
9. Market customers have proven that they generally only shop at the market and not our businesses.
10. During summer the majority of our business is done in the morning when it is cooler, Main Street being shut down prevents much of this.
We are deeply offended that the city would make the important decision to close Main Street every Saturday through summer and into fall without any discussion with the businesses directly affected by the closure. Also, none of the affected businesses were notified in any way whatsoever about the closure leaving us to find out on our own on the first day of the Farmers Market. The impact of this unilateral decision has definitely injured our relationship with the city, a partnership that we have enjoyed and appreciated over the years.
As you know, we have always been proponents of a clean, safe, family friendly atmosphere in our Historic Downtown. We have been instrumental and supportive of one time street closures for special events that draw a large crowd, such as Trick or Treat on Main, Stroll Through History, Christmas Parade, the recent vintage car show, Movies on Main, etc. We have always encouraged other groups to use Heritage Plaza and the adjacent parking lot for special events.
Downtown businesses have endured successive Main Street closures for curb repair, street repair, building of the courthouse, sidewalks, etc. It has been difficult and negatively impacted our businesses and sales, but was necessary while closing Main Street on Saturdays for the market is not.
We are asking that you communicate with Main Street businesses before considering any street closure that would directly affect us. We also request that the Farmers Market move back to Heritage Plaza or Freeman Park, as soon as possible, for the convenience of our customers and the overall wellbeing of the businesses that have chosen to operate on Main Street. We do welcome the Famers Market to our Downtown as a partner in our business relationship.