Photo: Steve Thurston
When the Westover Farmers Market opens Sunday, the big issue will be parking, with potted plants coming in a close second. At least, those were the issues that took two hours of county board time on Saturday April 21 when it approved the market with restrictions.
The market will open on the 1700 block of N. McKinley Road in front of the Westover branch library. Open from 8 a.m. to noon, the market will close two blocks of the northbound lane of McKinley starting at Washington Blvd. The location is temporary until the Arlington nonprofit corporation Field to Table, Inc. can secure a permanent location on the grounds of the REED school nearby.
Owners of the iconic Ayers Variety & Hardware store in the Westover Shopping Center are nervous that a parking lot they maintain will fill with people who won’t be coming into their store. Ayers opens at 10 a.m. on Sundays.
Therefore, the county board put caveats on the approval and required staff to meet with the Field to Table people in July to make sure concerns are being addressed.
“This was the best outcome we could’ve hoped for in the time given,” said Kristy Peterkin, the daughter of Ayers owners Ronald and Wilma Kaplan. She said they had known of the proposal for only two weeks.
The parking lot that concerns the Kaplans is the one behind their store--a lot of about 100 spaces that on a recent, sunny Saturday was full. Earlier designs of the farmers market had just one entrance to the lot open along McKinley, but the county is requiring that both entrances remain open.
The market must also provide the county with a final parking plan outlining public spots for visitors and to station parking attendants to help drivers find those spots.
The largest move by the county was to change the hours of operation from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays to 8 a.m. to noon, requiring the vendors to leave by 12:30 p.m.
Supporters of the farmers market, including a couple county board members, believe the market will actually draw more people to the family-run Ayers.
Peterkin said this was likely; however, keeping long-term customers happy is “our overriding concern,” she said in front of her family’s store on the 5800 block of N. Washington Blvd. If Sundays become inconvenient for the regulars, “how long until they don’t come on the other days?” Peterkin asked.