The groundbreaking date for Alpharetta's City Center is approaching, and work to prepare will continue to affect downtown plans and schedules. The latest "victim" of City Center will be the Alpharetta Downtown Farmers Market, but it will just be moved.
For the past few years the farmers market has been held in the parking lot beside City Hall on South Main Street, a very visible location that members of the Alpharetta Business Association have said serves it well.
"I'm just trying to see how long we can stay in the parking lot," said Dick Debban of the Alpharetta Business Association, which sponsors the farmers market. "We'd love to stay there one more year if we could."
But this site will not be available starting even before the anticipated City Center groundbreaking in April.
City Council approved a $108,000 bid to remove three underground storage tanks once used by a gas station that stood on the parking lot property. The gas station building is long gone, but the underground tanks are still there.
The state Environmental Protection Division has been on site, and it was determined that some liquid is within the tanks. Pete Sewczwicz, director of Engineering/Public Works, said the tanks apparently have water within them. The city had the choice of draining the tanks, capping them or removing them. Since they need to be removed to prepare the land for City Center construction, that's what the city will do now.
Even though the tank removal probably will only affect 20 parking spaces in the parking lot, there still won't be a place for the farmers market. Now that construction will begin on the City Center property, equipment staging will need to be done on the parking lot space.
Assistant City Administrator James Drinkard said that the city's Special Events coordinator, Kim Dodson, is preparing proposals for several locations to move the farmers market until City Center is completed. When that is done, city officials expect the farmers market to move back to the site.
"Most likely that lot is not going to be available through the term of the farmers market," Drinkard told Debban.
Sewcwicz said the apparent low bidder was rejected because its bid was too low to do the job, and the firm had no experience doing this kind of work. SEMS was awarded the $108,000 bid. The work should take less than 30 days, he said.