Ames City Council voted against opening the Main Street Farmers’ Market for May 9.
The meeting took place 6 p.m. April 28 on Zoom.
Recently, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation that allows farmers’ markets to continue with the limited operation, though it is up to the city to decide if they will be open.
The market will continue virtually, announced April 26, which will allow community members for a pick up option.
“It won't be open to all the customers, you know, there will be some that do not have the opportunities to order online,” said Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market Manager Lojean Peterson. “With the SNAP and the double up, a program that we're starting, many of those customers may not be able to purchase their produce with us on an online version of our markets.”
At large Rep. Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen said she believes it’s important to support local businesses and agriculture while Ward 1 Rep. Gloria Betcher said she questions how the market will enforce social distance measures.
“I do not doubt the farmers' market will do everything possible to provide for social distancing and all the other recommendations, but I don't see a lot of indication that citizens have been complying, particularly well in shopping experiences,” Betcher said. “And so I worry that it would be very difficult for us to enforce anything. I mean, the thought of sending the Ames Police in enforce, social distancing at the farmers' market is not one that I want to entertain and yet I don't know how you enforce healthy practices.”
Peterson said they will take additional measures to enhance social distancing such as adding additional items to its guidelines including spaced out vendors, reusable bags and samples will be prohibited as well as the exclusion of special events such as petting zoos, face painting, tables and chairs will not be set up and three handwashing stations will be added.
“It's more about the message that we're sending to the community,” said at large Rep. Amber Corrieri. “[...] it seems like when the Ames Farmers' Market posted the message on Facebook that they were going virtual that was in response to a lot of the community concerns. I mean there were a ton of messages on there really commending them for that decision and I don't think it was made clear that there was an intention to do an in-person event, while still doing a virtual event and so, though. I just feel like the message that we're getting from community members is that they want us to be cautious and I worry that we're sending a different message when we allow special events.”
Additionally, the Ames City Council approved budget changes for 2019 to the 2020 fiscal year.
Due to COVID-19, the budget will have a projected loss of $9.1 million, according to a memo from Ames City Manager Steve Schainker, which means funds to the Ames Municipal Band will be cut.
“It's just really painful,” said Ames Mayor John Haila. “In terms of the sense of community healing and privacy thing, which would enhance people's lives after being cooped up for so long. It's a hard one. This is a bitter pill to swallow I understand we're trying to accomplish.”
Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, decisions regarding the 2020 to 2021 budget will be made in August, when the city staff will know more about the duration of the virus and its financial impact on Ames.
“I think there's also good news here we're not cutting staff,” Haila said. “We're not really cutting any services, yes you can say that the ban is a service but we're not cutting police, we're not cutting firewood cutting our parks, recreation staff.”