In February, the Clermont City Council became aware of the concerns of businesses in Historic Downtown. Since many of these issues, such as the Farmers Market and First Friday events, fell under the Clermont Downtown Partnership (CDP), the Mayor requested that the CDP address these concerns and that it return to the council with a plan to improve the existing situation. The CDP is a “pro-businesses and pro-hometown” group of approximately 70 members which has been in existence for more than 15 years. A majority of its members are Downtown merchants.
It has been over 11 weeks and the City Council held a workshop on Thursday, June 8, to hear if these challenges had been resolved.
The Farmers Market, as well as other CDP events, are currently held on Montrose, between 7th & 8th Street. The area has been nicknamed, “The Sweet Spot” and local businesses not located between 7th and 8th Streets feel excluded from the events. Visitors assume that the shops beyond “the Sweet Spot” aren’t opened and don’t venture past the barricades, said one business owner. Restaurants suffer from street closures due to limited access to business, explained another. Many of the attendees at the evening’s workshop also felt that the Farmers Market needed an added variety of vendor foods and quality vendor merchandise, as well as signage (a Downtown Kiosk).
The consensus was that the Farmers Market needed to be improved and expanded beyond 7th-8th Streets, (the Sweet Spot). Suggestions were offered by councilmembers, attendees and CDP President Ericka Shanoff and Executive Director Ron Smart. Discussed was extending the layout of booths past 7th & 8th street with configured clustering, zig-zagging, running booths down one side or middle of Montrose. An alternative recommendation was to move the Farmers Market to the City Hall Park and parking lot.
City Manager Darren Gray reminded attendees not to lose sight of the great things happening and planned in the Downtown area. Councilman Keith Mullins emphasized the importance of open communication and focus.
It was suggested by Mayor Ash that the CDP update the City Council on a quarterly basis, have a city liaison on the CDP, and create an inclusive Advisory Board of 7 (a city representative, 3 CDP members and 3 concerned citizens) to work on positive results.
If you are interested in learning more about the Clermont Downtown Partnership, go to http://clermontdowntownpartnership.com.