County Cracks Down On Bethesda Farmers Market Parking


Bethesda's Central Farm Markets has enjoyed a lot of success since its started five years ago, apparently too much for the parking lot at Bethesda Elementary School to handle. The Bethesda market, open on Sundays in the Bethesda Elementary School parking lot (7600 Arlington Rd.), has run into parking issues with Montgomery County and a group that rents out the school. According to a Central Farm Markets email blast sent out Thursday, from now on there will be virtually no permitted parking at the elementary school for market-goers. Those going to the market will not be allowed to park in section A of the lot (displayed here). Sections B and C are typically filled with vendors, booths and tents. The market said the Montgomery County Office of Community Use of Public Facilities is also now requiring it to pay $6,000 until the end of the school year in June for a security guard to monitor the main school lot and enforce the new regulations. The market has a winter season starting in January. According to the email, the market got numerous complaints from Congregation Beth El, which rents the inside of Bethesda Elementary for religious school. "They felt that there were not enough parking spaces for staff and parents. Over the past two years BCFM has tried to work together with the Sunday school to find a compromise, but the situation did not improve and parking in the school lot was tight for all," read the email. Market-goers can park in the metered Bethesda Library lot nearby, but only until 11:30 a.m. The Market said it worked out an agreement with the library, which had complaints from staff members who could not find parking. The library opens at noon on Sundays. The market is encouraging people to park at the free-on-Sunday county parking garages on Old Georgetown Road and St Elmo Avenue. Central Farm Markets is also hoping to find a way to accommodate its market concierge service, which lets shoppers leave their groceries while getting their car for a direct pick-up. For now, market-goers will have to carry their purchases.

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