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Despite neighborhood complaints, city officials and Fort Greene Flea Market organizers remain confident that issues surrounding the popular Sunday event can be worked out.
But at least one vocal opponent feels the answer lies in finding another location.
“Sunday is a big Sabbath day in that area, where parishioners drive in to worship as well as parishioners in the neighborhood who drive and walk to church,” said longtime resident Walter Mosley.
“Maybe they [the flea market's organizers] can find an alternative site, but clearly this is not a good site for this kind of business endeavor,” he added.
The market began in April and is held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday in the Bishop Loughlin High School schoolyard, where it draws about 150 vendors and between 4,000 and 5,000 people, according to co-owner Jonathan Butler.
The site is bounded by Lafayette Avenue on the north, Vanderbilt Avenue on the east, Clermont Avenue on the west, and the high school building on Greene Avenue.
The area boasts several churches and is in a tony brownstone neighborhood.
Mosley said that two local churches – The Queen of All Saints Church and the Cadman Plaza Church – as well as the Mason Hall, have all lodged complaints, and all are located adjacent to the site.
Many residents also complain that the flea market brings quality of life problems such as receiving summonses because of flea market patrons who leave garbage on local residential properties, said Mosley.
Mosley said other issues include flea market patrons using the bathrooms of local churches, and the aforementioned parking problems.
The flea market used to be in lower Manhattan and has become popular quickly as its drawn its clientele and vendors from there, he said.
Mosley said the community has already had three meetings on the issue, with a fourth scheduled for this week.
But Butler said that when he and partner Eric Demby first told the community about the flea market in December, no red flags were raised.
“In May was the first time we heard that the church [Queen of All Saints] was unhappy about things,” he said.
Butler said the complaints he heard included parking, an excess of bicycles and that one person had used the church bathroom.
The flea market adjusted, putting up laminated signs about bathroom use and bringing in port-a-potties, he said.
Butler said he didn’t know about and was not invited to any of the previous meetings, but will attend the next one.
“We’ve been asking the church to give us a list of problems and no such list has been forthcoming, but we are sure once we all get in a room together nothing will be unsolvable,” said Butler, who lives in the area with his wife and two children.
Butler also noted that the flea market provides an economic stimulus to the neighborhood that provides a trickle down effect to the small businesses in the neighborhood along DeKalb and Myrtle avenues.
City Council member Letitia James supports the flea market and is working to resolve issues.
“The flea market provides local benefits. A number of businesses and restaurants called me about increases in business. Some issues we need to address and look forward to resolving them,” she said.
Community Board 2 District Manager Robert Perris said he attended the third meeting and that CB 2 Chair John Dew attended the first two thus far.
“We’re in communication with some of the complainants, Council member James, The Queen of All Saints Church and the organizers, and he hope to find solutions to people’s complaints,” said Perris.
Calls to The Queens of All Saints Church for comment were not returned by press time.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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