Overland Park officials consider multi-million dollar changes to popular downtown farmers market

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Overland Park city planners met with vendors and residents Monday night to discuss what could be some controversial changes to a popular downtown farmers market.

For more than 30 years people have been able to enjoy farm-to-table produce and home goods at Overland Park’s Downtown Farmers Market.

But city planners said not everything is "Grade A" when it comes to the state’s top-ranked farmers market facilities.

“We’re bursting at the seams right now. We can’t expand," Overland Park City Planner Doug Johnson said.

One of the biggest issues with the downtown Marty Street location is the slope. There’s also often a lack of parking at the bustling market.

“On Saturday and Wednesday, they are already parked up and down Overland Park Drive and some around the corner on Valley View and 83rd," Santa Fe Commons Park neighbor Nancy Osborne said.

A $17 million option would create a split level farmers market at the current location with a parking garage and shops below. But consultants have recommend a $5 million plan that would move the market to Santa Fe Commons Park, home of the city’s Fall Festival.

“It’s the biggest change," Johnson said. "It moves the market a couple blocks away, which affects the businesses that are near the market. It changes the character of that park dramatically and gets a lot closer to a residential neighborhood."

Johnson said the option is likely the most controversial.

“The Fall Festival is one day a year," Osborne said. "Most of us say 'If you can’t get in and out of your driveway, you can live with that,' but I’m not going to live with that every Saturday. That’s ridiculous, and that’s what will happen if it’s this close."

Other options include minor renovations to the existing farmers market or buying nearby flat land to add on an enclosed section to sell year-round.

“I’m not ever against change," vendor Edith Palmberg said. "It’s just you want to be thoughtful about your change."

None of the proposed changes are currently in the Overland Park budget right now. The City Council is expected to discuss the matter early next year.