Hilo farmers market improving

  • Customers weave through the aisles of the Hilo Farmers Market in 2018 in downtown Hilo. (HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald file photo)

HILO — Construction of new permanent canopies for the Hilo Farmers Market could begin this summer, according to its owner.

The metal structures, which would include solar panels, would replace temporary canopy tents that Hawaii County has objected to for violating its building code.

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The market has used the temporary tents for years, and the issue came to a head last year when the county began imposing fines that reached $212,000 by Oct. 5.

Since then, De La Cruz has applied for building permits for the permanent coverings on three parcels. He has received a temporary structure permit while he moves through that process.

Barett Otani, an executive assistant to Mayor Harry Kim, said a permit for the fruit and vegetable area could be approved in two to three weeks.

Permits for the other two parcels were submitted later and may take longer.

Otani said De La Cruz is meeting benchmarks set by the county.

The owner has until March 1 to secure financing to pay the fines, which could be reduced by 50 percent, he said.

“They are making their progress,” Otani said.

“We don’t want to shut them down or put them out of business.”

De La Cruz estimated construction could last for two to four months.

To avoid shutting down the market during construction, the new structures will likely be installed one parcel at a time.

De La Cruz said vendors could be moved to a lot on Mamo Street that’s being underutilized.

Otani said the county also is trying to set up a temporary market location across Kamehameha Avenue for the vendors who are disrupted.

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The market is at the intersection of Mamo Street and Kamehameha Avenue.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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