By Mary Thurwachter
Lantana’s Shoreline Green Market at Bicentennial Park opened to acclaim from vendors and residents but is struggling to find its footing, according to Hector Herrera, the event’s founder and manager.
During a town meeting on Feb. 10, Herrera said the market, in existence since November, was just starting to find its customer base. Customers want lots of vendors, he explained, and the market’s original 30 vendors have dwindled to 15.
One of the main reasons, Herrera said, was a lack of designated parking for vendors. Several had repeatedly been slapped with parking tickets with limited space in the Ocean Avenue area for both vendors and customers. “A lot of these vendors are mom-and-pop businesses who invest in bringing their produce, their wares and their arts and crafts to the market. The parking tickets they get add up week after week.”
Herrera asked that parking fees be waived at Bicentennial and Lyman Kayak parks from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on market Sundays. While the Town Council didn’t agree to that, it did grant 20 (out of 31) parking spaces at Lyman Kayak Park, just around the corner on North Lake Drive, for vendor parking.
Mayor Dave Stewart said he wouldn’t want to take away any street parking or parking at Sportsman’s Park, because Sunday was a day that many families take out their boats and would need parking spaces. Customers of restaurants on Ocean Avenue would also need parking spaces.
Council member Lynn Moorhouse said he really liked the green market and was in favor of allowing vendors to park at Kayak Park. He said it was the perfect place since “on Sundays, it’s empty.”
Council members suggested that other vendors could drop off their tents and wares and park free at the town’s tennis courts at Iris Avenue and South Lake Drive, just a few blocks south of Bicentennial Park.
With the vendors off the streets, more parking spaces would become available for the public, Herrera said.
In another attempt to draw customers, Herrera requested permission to sell bloody marys, as well as beer and wine, at the green market. Town Manager Deborah Manzo said the town would need to change its code to allow alcohol for bloody marys, so that request was denied. However, the council did approve the sale of beer and wine from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Moorhouse said beer and wine were allowed at other town events and he saw no problem with approving sales at the green market.
“No one’s going to get pukey from 10 to 2 in the afternoon unless they’re a really pukey person,” Moorhouse said.
Police Chief Sean Scheller promised to keep an eye on drinking at the green market. If it does become a problem, the town can rescind approval.