At a planning fest held at Casa de la Guerra this past Saturday, there was much engaged milling about and many opinions shared about a proposal to reinvent the plaza as a new site for the Saturday Farmers’ Market, but for all the considerable happy talk, the directors of the market’s board remain anything but happy about what appears to be their new home. According to a missive sent out by board president Noey Turk, De la Guerra Plaza is somewhat smaller with fewer adjacent parking spaces compared to the market’s digs at the city’s Cota Street parking lot. “With a smaller space, we would just barely be able to fit our existing members and would be unable to accept any new applicants,” she wrote. “Ever.”
The Farmers’ Market is being forced to relocate because City Hall has determined that the market’s current home, the Cota Street lot, is the optimal location to build a much-needed new police station. Likewise, De la Guerra Plaza has been tagged as the best site to accommodate the Farmers’ Market. This has awakened at City Hall plans long dormant to completely reimagine De la Guerra Plaza. Under consideration now are tentative proposals to eliminate the grassy centerpiece entirely and make the whole area the same height. Also under consideration are plans to make the plaza an expansive pedestrian plaza, the centerpiece for a range of activities — programmed and spontaneous — that will lend new life to the city’s retail core.
Planning Commissioner Mike Jordan said he was generally impressed with the positive energy exuded by those attending Saturday’s event, but he acknowledged some participants were resistant to the major changes under consideration. Some politically engaged participants worried they’d have no place to hold protest rallies on Saturday morning. Turk expressed concern the market was being used “as leverage to create momentum for a remake of DLG Plaza and am worried that our needs may be overlooked.” Among other ideas, Turk said access to the News-Press parking lots would be critical to the success of a relocated market.