Friday, July 16, 2010

Farm and produce vending in Bryan Park

From Rob Fischman, Elm Heights Neighborhood Association:
Anne Kibbler and I have been talking about the recent removal of the informal Friday morning farm vendors from the northwest parking lot of Bryan Park. If we want to revive the vending or develop something along the lines of a local/satellite weekly informal market, the Elm Heights and Bryan Park neighborhoods will need to join efforts and work with the city parks board.

From Anne to city:
For the past two years, I have been buying eggs and meat from Rhodes Family Farm in the upper Henderson parking lot of Bryan Park on Tuesday and Friday mornings. Recently, the farmer was asked to move his business elsewhere. Some of us in the Bryan Park neighborhood who are customers of Rhodes have since discussed the desirability of having a local vendor sell goods within walking and biking distance of our homes -- a situation that would seem to support the city's goals of sustainable living. In the last few weeks Luke Rhodes was at Bryan Park, another vendor selling produce set up shop next to him, making the location even more attractive to local customers. The parking lot was never even close to full -- in fact, there were rarely more than a half-dozen cars there at any given time, so it did not appear to me that customers were hindering park patrons.

It is my understanding that food vendors with Monroe County Health Department permits may ask permission from the Parks and Recreation Department to do business on park property. Could you please clarify for me what Rhodes and other local vendors would have to do if they wished to return to Bryan Park?

Reply from Mick Renneisen (City of Bloomington):
Thanks for your email regarding vending at Bryan Park. Current Parks policy requires anyone selling a good or service to obtain a permit from our Department. As you stated, if that product is a food/beverage, it is also regulated by Monroe County Health. Vendors who sell products on City property are also required to get an Itinerant Merchant's License from the City. These processes are used to help protect the health/safety of our citizens and to regulate use of a park, or other City property, in order to protect against an activity that might interrupt or inhibit the basic functions and use of a park, or other City property, by other citizens. Having said that, we are receptive to a discussion regarding the possibility of a vending arrangement on a limited, and possibly, trial basis.

In order to pursue this matter further, we would have to discuss this with our Board of Parks Commissioners. We are scheduling a retreat with them in mid-September. This would be an appropriate item to add to that agenda. If you could put together your neighborhood's ideas prior to September and submit them to me, I would be happy to add this item to our agenda.

We'll discuss this at our next regular BPNA meeting on July 27.

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