Public unaware of city’s Cottonwood Market development plans, councillor says

Councillor Anna Purcell set up a booth on two Saturdays at the market to get public input on the plan.

A view of the future location of the Cottonwood Market

City council reviewed its plans for the redevelopment of Railtown on Monday, and the only issue that created controversy was the future of the Cottonwood Market.

The concept plan for the market, adopted by council on March 21, would see permanent market shelters built on the grassy area adjacent to Cottonwood Falls Park, just beyond the current parking lot. A Star article outlining the plan, with drawings, can be found here.

Public works director Colin Innes told council that the city will be installing electrical and water service, along with permeable paving stones, within the next couple of weeks at the new market site.

Councillor Anna Purcell said she wants to slow down the process because she does not think there is enough public awareness of the plan.

At left and below: drawings from the market concept plan, first published in the Star in March.

Purcell explained that during the summer she set up a booth at the Cottonwood Market on two very busy market days with large drawings of the planned market move, and found that almost no one was aware of the plan, and in fact they were not aware of the larger planning process for Railtown.

She said the reaction, after she told them about the plan to move the market, was mixed, although market vendors and the public were nearly unanimously positive about the tearing down of the old market structures.

Purcell told council she wanted to slow the process down and try out the move in small stages.

“Let’s be more incremental. Whats the rush? Some things I have been learning about community development indicate that is the way to go.”

City manager Kevin Cormack said the city got a grant to do the move, and has worked extensively with the EcoSociety (which runs the market) on the plan for the move.

“This is more than a market, it is a park amenity,” he said, emphasizing that the new structures would be used for more than just the market, and he said the plan is too far along to slow it down now.

Councillor Robin Cherbo asked why the market was going to be moved to that location, and he said he was unaware of the plan. Mayor Deb Kozak and city manager Kevin Cormack explained that council had discussed and approved the plan in March. (Cherbo was present at that meeting and voted against it, as did Purcell and Councillor Micheal Dailly.)

Councillor Bob Adams asked for details on exactly where the market was going to be moved to. A drawing of the plan was projected on a screen for clarification, and Adams said he was not familiar with it. Adams was at the March 21 meeting and voted in favour of the plan.

Purcell said, “If two councillors are not aware of it, I don’t know how we can expect the public to be aware of it.”

At its next meeting council will vote on the adoption of the results of the entire Railtown planning process, which was developed through a number of surveys, open houses, online comments, and information sessions over the spring and summer. Details of the plan can be found here.

 

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