Marquette Council discusses flea market parking, location
By Audrey Posten
“I don’t want to be the subject of being yelled at about parking,” said councilwoman Mary Jo Pirc when asked at the Sept. 17 Marquette City Council meeting if she had any comments about the flea market. It was most recently held Labor Day weekend.
Pirc said several community members have spoken to her about parking issues near the flea market grounds on Edgar Street. She asked the council to take formal action on whether or not the spaces those residents normally use are designated spots or not.
“I don’t want to be the fall guy,” Pirc continued. “I’m getting beat all to hell. Something’s got to be said.”
The council explained that, while they regret the inconvenience to residents who have to park further away during the flea market, the spots are not dedicated; those parking stalls are public city spots and can be used by anyone.
Councilman Jason Winter could not attend the meeting, but sent a letter to the council in support of the flea market’s Edgar Street location.
In the letter, Winter said he realizes the location causes a headache for some businesses because of the public parking spots it consumes, but asked the businesses to work with Pirc in solving the issue.
“Find a way to make it work for the flea market and the local businesses,” Winter said, “as it is something that only happens a few times a year.”
Councilwoman Rinda Ferguson asked if it would be possible to block the street off at an angle in order to unblock those parking spaces. However, due to the congestion, City Manager Dean Hilgerson said keeping those spots open was not worth the risk. Pirc also said that would not be wise.
“The whole reason for moving it there was safety,” Pirc said. “You put in a worse safety feature if cars are allowed to back up into the crowd.”
Prior to this year, the flea market had been held under the bridge.
In his letter, Winter said he would like the flea market to stay on Edgar Street because it is safer.
“Having small children of my own and visiting the flea market when it was under the bridge, it would make me extremely nervous, as people visiting the flea market would seem to park wherever they wanted, making it a hazard for people crossing the street to get to the flea market or other points of interest in Marquette,” he said. “I feel it will be a matter of time before someone will be seriously injured while trying to attend the flea market because of all the vehicle and pedestrian traffic, if moved back to the bridge.”
At the Edgar Street location, Winter said the flea market is more visible and increases foot traffic to other Marquette businesses.
Winter said it also appeared that, for the most part, vendors were happy with the new location.
“[They are] willing to be open minded and try to make things work for the city of Marquette and businesses,” he said.
Pirc said she is still adjusting to the location change and is trying to keep an open mind.
“Change is good they say,” she said. “I’m trying to stay positive. I don’t want to get in an argument. I just want it to go well.”
The next flea markets are scheduled for Oct. 5-6 and Oct. 12-13.
Tourism and Economic Development Coordinator position
The personnel committee recommended that the part-time Wetlands Centre Coordinator/Tourism and Economic Development Coordinator position be extended through Dec. 31. At that time, a full-time position recommendation will be presented for consideration. Pirc, Ferguson and Tracy Melver approved. Winter and Jim Meana were absent.
Boardwalk and scenic overlook projects
At the meeting, the council also approved the preliminary boardwalk and scenic overlook project plans.
The plans will now be submitted to the Iowa Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.