Board to Consider Westover Farmers Market Proposal

by ARLnow.com April 20, 2012 at 11:19 am 5,060 32 Comments

The Arlington County Board is set to consider a proposal for a new farmers market in Westover Village at its Saturday meeting.

The farmers market has been in the works for a couple of years. If approved, it will be the seventh weekly farmers market in Arlington.

Organizers are asking the County Board to approve a market that will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Sundays along the 1700 block of N. McKinley Road. The street location is temporary — organizers are hoping to eventually hold the market on the adjacent Walter Reed School property, but are still awaiting approval from Arlington Public Schools.

Taking vendor setup and breakdown times into account, the street will be closed from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. That has drawn criticism from the owners of some businesses in the Westover Shopping Center, since it will limit access to the shopping center’s driveway and parking lot. However, county staffers are recommending the open air market request be approved, stating that “the market should not have a substantial adverse impact on neighboring properties.”

As part of their application, market organizers agreed to encourage market patrons to park along Washington Boulevard and in the Reed School’s McKinley Road parking lot, instead of in the nearby residential neighborhoods.

Should the application be approved, organizers are hoping to kick off the farmers market’s inaugural season on May 6.

  • Chris

    I think that a farmers’ market would be fine there as long as there’s no dancing.

  • Anon

    According to a sign in the store, Ayers hardware store is only asking that the market be pushed back by an hour and/or avoid blocking the entrance to the rear parking lot, to reduce the impact on their weekend sales.

  • YTK

    Ayers makes a good point.

  • Josh S

    But there is another entrance/exit to the parking lot on Longfellow, just a block away..

    I’m with the county on this one. It’s fine as a temporary location. In fact, where on the Walter Reed school property would it go? Behind the school in the parking lot back there? That’s a terrible idea.
    In the parking lot up the street next to the baseball diamond? I guess that’s better, but will make scheduling Little League games that much more difficult…..

    • Dan

      That is frequently blocked by cars, delivery trucks etc.

      You obviously don’t go to Westover very often.

      • Josh S

        Shall we compare bank accounts, too?

      • LNE

        Not that frequently, and I go there all the time.

    • SoMuchForSockpuppets

      I am absolutely shocked that Josh S is agreeing with the county government. Shocked, I tell you!

      • Josh S

        All county employees are money-grubbing, incompetent fools and anyone on the ARLnow comment board could immediately step in and do a 100% better job.


  • Suburban Not Urban

    Why should the buisnesses pay the price for the folks starting this up not having their ducks in a row with APS. Closing that street will completely mess up parking/traffic flow around that shopping arcade. And guess what, when I’m planning on doing a home project on a weekend – when do I go to the Hardware store – Sat morning.

    • Mr. Hand

      You should be ok as long as you don’t leave your car in the lot overnight until Sunday morning when the Farmer’s Market will take place.

  • LNE

    I live nearby and have no problem with this proposal. The library and post office are both closed on Sundays so that’s not an issue. And as noted earlier, the parking lot for Ayers etc. can easily be accessed from Longfellow. Traffic flow into and out of this lot is never too heavy and should be fine with one entry/exit point. The businesses will likely end up benefiting from this – people attending the farmer’s market will also likely spend money at Ayers, Westover Market, etc.

  • CMG

    This will make it very hard to get in/out of the bank or the drive-thru ATM there.

    Why not have this in the huge field behind the shopping center?

    • Arlingtune

      Yes, there are a lot of better options around there for placing this market. You know, besides blocking an main cut-through street for neighborhood traffic!

      But Arlington hates cars, so any chance they get to block the evil scary cars [scary air quotes with hands] will be adopted immediately by the government.

  • Bouncing Balls

    A great deal of silliness on Ayers part. If their whole business plan relies on plant sales, then they need to find some other line of work. They should welcome this with open arms, have an open house, serve free coffee, buy their own booth at the market, etc. After all the whining I guarantee that they will have a better $$$$ Saturday with a farmers market steps away.

    Ayers is famous for having everything but they are also famous for a lot of silly behavior. No Bouncing Balls in the store, general crabbiness towards all the Swanson age future customers, trying to prevent a farmers market (for years this has been going on). Can you imagine what they would do if someone opened a mulch stand across the street? What on earth would happen if another pizza joint opened? Would Lost Dog petition their permit? I think not. This is utter silliness.

    • nom de guerre

      a market that will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on SUNDAYS.

    • CMG

      Well, I don’t think Home Depot allows bouncing balls either.

      Maybe you’re right in general–but my only firsthand experience was seeing two pre-teen girls trying to get a refund on a whoopee cushion at the cash register. And the cashier actually put up with this nonsense.

    • LNE

      Agreed. Ayers is great but they need to chill out and recognize that this will be very good for their bottom line.

      • Jake_O

        Ayers is awesome if you can justify paying $5.00 for a five cent toggle bolt. Their prices are absurd.

        I’d love to see the farmer’s market @ Westover. Would be closer than Falls Church and hopefully a little more spread out and not as crowded.

        Ayers may think they will lose business but the FM attracts a lot of folks from the surrounding area – these are the same folks who pay top dollar for local/organic and WholeFoods so could also probably also afford to shop at Ayers…

        • BarbInArlington

          And of course, those people have never heard a Ayers before, so that will bring in new business.

  • Blue Loom

    Why not put the farmer’s market on the site of the old library, at the corner of Lexington & 18th? That’s just up the street from the proposed site and probably wouldn’t involve closing 18th/McKinnley.

    • Westover

      Where the U7 kids play soccer every Saturday and Sunday morning?

    • Mr. Hand

      I thought that would be a natural place to have SOMETHING instead of what went there (NOTHING). Too bad the county didn’t have the foresight on that one, as I usually think they do a good job of planning ahead.

      As for Ayers, I wonder what proportion of their weekly sales happen between 9am and 1pm on Sundays. I would be surprised if it were substantial, and I have to believe the Farmer’s Market would increase overall foot traffic in the area. Ayers is one of the last, great, neighborhood stores and I really want them to do well.

  • Jesse

    I for one do not see the need for a farmer’s market at Westover. There is a wonderful, thriving Saturday market about 1.5 miles away in Falls Church. Westover is already a crowded location which I think would be overwhelmed by a farmer’s market.

    I’m not against change – I was in favor of the Swanson expansion and the Preston King Post Office renovation; this is just an un-needed, poorly situated market.

  • SouthPikeGuy

    Bad idea to close the road. Lots of traffic will have to divert to smaller neighborhood streets. And as others have said, it messes up the flow of traffic in the rear lot if they can only use that one other entrance that is not wide enough for two vehicles to pass.

    Staff should deny the permit until the school board figures out where the final market location will be.

    • LNE

      This is already a side street, and it’s not a major cut-through, so the impact will likely be minimal – people will still have Nottingham, 16th/Lexington, Patrick Henry/Harrison, etc to get from Washington Blvd to Lee Blvd.

  • Wesley

    I don’t think a Farmers Market on Sunday, at a time when many businesses are either closed or just opening is going to have a negative effect; in fact, probably just the opposite! Parking may be an issue at first as well as the bank drive-thru, but that can easily be worked through. The planners should be required to ‘contract’ a minimum of two years so everyone gets used to the idea.

  • Lee

    I would love to have a farmers market at Westover but do not support blocking McKinnley and even a portion of the access our current stores as the way to make it happen. It isn’t Ayer’s fault the preferred location hasn’t been approved. Put pressure on the Arlington School System if they are the hold up. Ayers is a vital element to this community and it doesn’t seem fair to ask them to risk even a fraction of their trade. Any loss in revenue for Ayers hurts them more than their corporate competition. Ayers has stuck with us for many years and employs dozens of people. If I had to choose between a farmers market and Ayers, I would support Ayers. And shopping there is green. I save time and gas every time I walk there. They are the “convenience” store of hardware stores. They must charge more since they can’t buy in bulk and what they offer in return is convenience. If their customers don’t have the convenience Ayers no longer has the edge. So let’s get the school system to do their bit for Westover and approve using the school grounds.

  • Westover

    While I appriciate farmers markets, don’t we have enough in the area. Seems this will just further dilute the quality of product and vendor among them all.

    This will also cut into the useability of the Walter Reed Fields for kids baseball and soccer.

    I will have to oppose this measure for now.

  • JimPB

    I could be wrong, but I thought the proposal for a Farmer’s Market at Westover arose with and was taken forward by citizens (so the plan should be brilliant). The ArlCo government role was review of the plan and consideration of comments — and eventual approval.

  • mom

    Wow. My kid has baseball there on Sundays. This is going to cause some major headaches for parking and for getting kids actually to and from their games.

  • dallynd

    I don’t see the problem with closing the road and I don’t think it will hamper business for either Ayers or the other businesses. All Ayers would need to assure is competitive pricing on their plants if that’s the primary complaint. The entirety of the shopping center that is open is still completely accessible. I live just blocks away and would be too happy to do my shopping followed by lunch at Lost Dog and a beer at the WBG.


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