Changes planned at the Marquette Commons should make next summer's weekly farmers market better than ever.
Included in the Marquette Downtown Authority's plans for the downtown site are removal of the fountain and reducing the size of the center island, resulting in additional space for more market vendors.
Helping to push the project along is a $24,537 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The funds come from the MEDC's Farmers Market Grant Program, which provides one-time grants between $10,000 and $50,000 to existing farmers markets that have been in operation for at least four years.
The grant requires $43,623 in local matching funds, which will come from the DDA's budget, according to DDA Director Mona Lang. She added that the authority already had plans to revamp the Commons before the grant was awarded, but the extra funds will enable a few more items to be added to the project.
Included is a drinking fountain, which will not only be beneficial to farmers market goers but other users of the area, as well. There is also a main entryway to the area being considered.
We think the changes will be good for a downtown venue that has gained usage over the years, particularly on Saturdays during the farmers market.
For one thing, market shoppers should have more of a selection to chose from, seeing the changes will add about 10 more vendors sites to the 41 that are offered this year.
Taking the fountain down was something many visitors to the Commons have talked about over the years anyway, seeing it doesn't appear to operate very often and can be a magnet for vandalism.
In fact, Lang said the condition of the fountain has gotten to the point where the DDA can't afford to repair it.
Officials are hoping the fountain can be removed this fall and the project completed by next spring - just in time for vendors to pack the area on Saturdays and offer their wide range of locally grown and produced products.