The City of Nelson and the West Kootenay EcoSociety have scrapped a $600,000 plan for the Cottonwood Market announced last year that would have included a number of permanent structures.
The new $215,000 version of the market will still move to the area shown below, the large grassy area closer to Cottonwood Park and the highway, but it will utilize the vendors’ own tents, as seen at the market this past summer.
The city will install electrical and water services, propane, and a semi-permeable paved surface.
City manager Kevin Cormack says the change came about because last summer’s vendors, operating without the old wooden structures that had been dismantled, were happy with the market set-up and saw no need for the planned new structures. And they were dismayed by the price tag.
“We decided it would work much better to not be restrained by those structures.” Cormack said.
Alon Gelcer of the Ecosociety, which runs the market on the city-owned land, agrees.
“The EcoSociety is glad the structures are not being built.” he said. “It seemed expensive and overbuilt for our needs.”
The market will not be confined to the plaza area but will spill over into the park area north of the path to the footbridge, and also into the former market area.The planned plaza will include a stage and a washroom building.
The Nelson Izushi Friendship Society, which founded the Friendship Garden in Cottonwood Falls Park 30 years ago and has maintained it ever since, was also involved in coming up with the new plan.
The society will build an entrance gate to the Friendship Garden to commemorate its 30th anniversary. The gate will be located at the Rod and Gun Club end of the footbridge.
“It would be Japanese style gate to welcome people to the park and the garden,” said the Izushi Society’s John Armstrong.
“We think (the new plan) is a good decision, making better use of the park and a revitalized market,” he said.
Cormack said the design will retain two cherry trees located in the new market area.
The cost of the project will be shared between the Ecosociety, the Izushi Friendship Society, and the city. The EcoSociety has received a $40,000 grant from the Columbia Basin Trust. The city will contribute $75,000 and the Izushi Society will build the commemorative gate.
For the remainder, the city is still expecting some help from un-named private sector players.
“We are also looking at some private partners who are willing to work on building the stage and washroom building,” Cormack said.
As for the ground on which the market has stood for decades, Cormack said it is designated as a special development zone in the Railtown plan, “but in the interim we are hoping to extend grass into part of that area and get rid of the concrete slabs, and use part of it for parking.”
Asked about the public pushback the city received when the Railtown plan indicated three-storey condos for the former market location, Cormack admitted they looked “pretty imposing” and he said perhaps there could be lower density housing on those lots. He said this plan will come together over the longer term, while the new market development will be ready for this year’s market season.