Fourth Avenue Merchants Association Executive Director John Sedwick said this afternoon he received assurance from the city of Tucson that planned nearby construction will not take place during the fair and the fair will now have nearly a full complement of vendors.
Sedwick said he has revised the vendor alignment to the latest restrictions given FAMA by the city and that he expects the FAMA board to approve it Tuesday afternoon.
FAMA faced eliminating more than 70 vendors from the March 20-23 fair after the event got caught between city and county projects.
The new alignment will cause the reduction of about 20 vendors - 14 artists and six food - plus the elimination of a performance stage.
But Sedwick said that's much better than the alternative, truncated vendor list caused by the city/county dispute.
The fair had to realign its normal all-on-Fourth-Avenue fair to accommodate the city's streetcar. The new fair alignment is T-shaped, stretching south from University Boulevard up Fourth, then spreading out east and west on Seventh Street.
But that alignment ran into a Pima County Flood Control District project at Eighth Street and Third Avenue. The county is relocating a city reclaimed water line and constructing a box culvert to divert runoff from the Arroyo Chico and High School washes flood plains.
That project has been planned for months and the county says the city wants it done by May 1 because of demand for reclaimed water at city golf courses and parks during the summer.
Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said Friday the county may not be able to meet that deadline now that the city is delaying giving it the permits necessary to start work until after the street fair.
Sedwick said the flood control construction would have limited public access to the event from the east and that it wouldn't have been fair to vendors, most of whom come from out of town, to trap them on the end of a residential street next to construction. Therefore, Sedwick wanted the city to let him have the old vendor alignment, pre-streetcar that stretched all the way down Fourth to Ninth Street.
But the city is testing the streetcar in advance of a hoped for July 1 roll out and refused to halt testing. The streetcar's turnaround into the maintenance and storage facility is at Eighth Street. As a result, Sedwick said he was eliminating the Seventh Street vendors, which was about 71 spaces, and would cost FAMA about $50,000 in revenue.
City Councilman Steve Kozachik spent much of last week cajoling city staff to relent on the streetcar testing but said he failed to get staff to budge.
Sedwick said he could accommodate all 71 vendors on Seventh Street if the city would agree to halt traffic on Fifth Avenue to let the fair spill over some to the west, but he said the city refused.