Council Talks City Market, CARS Funding, More

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People in Charlottesville spoke out to city councilors on a couple of hot topics Monday night.

Separate public hearings were held to discuss a permanent home for the City Market and safety while crossing South Street near Midway Manor. Many vendors and residents signed up to share their thoughts on how council needs to handle these issues in the coming weeks.

Councilors also voted to pass the consent agenda, which includes money for emergency services. The Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad (CARS) will now be able to bill for ambulance transports in the city. That fee would help cover operational costs and reimburse the city for career support positions. Council would regulate the rates for revenue recovery if CARS or any other squad requests to bill.

The future of Charlottesville's farmers market was the focus of a lengthy public hearing Monday night. For years, the market on Saturday mornings has been held in a parking lot off Water Street. Now there are four new concepts on the table, including both indoor and outdoor options and room for businesses and residential areas.

One City Market vendor, Rachel Williamson, collected 90 signatures from her neighboring merchants and more than 100 customers to show support for one option, the market square design.

“We believe this because it is the only design that leaves the market with the entire footprint it currently has,” Williamson said. “It is the only design that does not give away portions of our space to retail stores. It is the only design that maintains open-air visibility on all four sides.”

Council will not be making a decision on a design for the City Market until its next meeting on June 16.

Council decided Monday night to approve nearly $100,000 to help feed children in need over the summer in Charlottesville. The city's parks and recreation department can be reimbursed up to $95,000 from the Virginia Health and Special Nutrition Department to provide free breakfast and lunch to children attending summer camp. Most of those kids get free and reduced lunch during the school year.

"Some kids come to camp having not had a good breakfast. Often they're going home, their parents are either working long hours and dinner might be a bag of chips or there may not be enough food in the house at all,” said City Councilor Kristin Szakos.

Many neighbors in Midway Manor also took their street-crossing safety concerns to Charlottesville City Council Monday night. The city already closed off six parking spaces on South Street because people say they couldn't see when they would try to cross the street. Now, neighbors say they want those spaces gone for good.

Some of the people who live in Midway Manor have called for a new crosswalk, but a city report says that would be unsafe under Virginia Department of Transportation guidelines. One resident explained a couple of seniors living at Midway Manor say they have almost been hit by cars, so it’s a dangerous situation.

To address the issue, council agreed to permanently remove one to two of the parking spaces. They also discussed adding temporary bump outs and starting a process to put a crosswalk in a little further east.

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