At left, Ann Jawin of the Doug Bay Manor Civic speaks out against a farmers market for Douglaston. With her is CB 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece. At right, Michael Hurwitz, director of the city’s Greenmarket program, with staff member Catherine Chambers offers details on the proposed plan for Douglaston.
With overwhelming support from the community and opposition from only one civic group, Community Board 11 on Monday approved a city-run farmers market for a site near the Douglaston Long Island Rail Road station.
After an hour of discussion, the board voted 31-8 to allow placement of the Greenmarket around the traffic circle at 41st Avenue and 235th Street. It requires 100 feet of street closure for the weekly event that will be held on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. from July 10 to Nov. 20.
Michael Hurwitz, director of the Greenmarket program, was elated at the vote and doesn’t anticipate any hurdles to get the farmers market running by July. Plans call for nine participants with 14 to 16 tents.
There will be fresh and organic produce, seafood, cows milk cheese, mushrooms and bread. “This is the ideal location and will not grow beyond the circle,” Hurwitz said.
When safety concerns were raised, he noted that the fire and police departments will not sign off on the plan without adequate access.
Voicing their support of the plan were representatives from the Community Church of Douglaston, Little Neck-Douglaston Historical Society, Douglaston Village Chamber of Commerce and the Douglaston Local Development Corp.
Ann Jawin, chairwoman of the Doug Bay Manor Civic Association, led the charge against the farmers market and said she has the support of 43 of the 66 families living in her area.
Jawin’s civic group members live the closest to the train station, and she and several of those objecting to the plan said they don’t oppose the market, just its location. “This Greenmarket would completely destroy the ambience of our quiet Sunday,” she said.
She noted the intersection where it will go “is our main access into and out of our community” and fears it would impede rescue workers following fires or storms. Jawin was assured no through streets would be affected.
Several of her members, including James Wong, are concerned about parking in the residential area and suggested the market be moved to the south side of the station at the parking lot leased by the MTA.
But Hurwitz replied that putting it there would make for a worse traffic situation since there is no turnaround and it would be difficult to operate a farmers market where shoppers park.
He promised that the agreed-upon site “will be kept cleaner than when the sellers arrive” and that farmers must take their refuse with them.
Hurwitz also pointed out that the permit is for five months only. He will have come back to the board next year for approval.
CB 11 member Frank Skala called the proposal “a dumb idea” and “disrespectful to the people who live close.” Skala doesn’t believe farmers markets work in suburban areas like Douglaston.
Another member, Victor Mimoni, however, said the program deserves a try. “I believe the problems can be worked out,” said Mimoni, who is also a contributing writer to the Chronicle. “People are excited about it.”
If the plan gets the green light, it will become the city’s 54th market and the only one in northern Queens. The others in the borough are located in Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Elmhurst, Corona, Astoria, Glendale and Jackson Heights. All are open one day a week during the growing season, except Jackson Heights, which operates all year.