CB 8 will decide on how to properly hold farmers markets

By Bob Harris

A few weeks ago, the Community Board 8 Parks Committee held a meeting to evaluate a proposal to have a farmers market in Cunningham Park. The proposal grew from a meeting of the Holliswood Civic Association, where a Jon Klar, recycling outreach coordinator associated with GrowNYC, spoke about farmers markets. The civic, on the south border of Cunningham Park, brought the idea to the committee.

There are no concrete proposals, just a general idea. The most likely location for a market would be in the parking lot off Union Turnpike and 196th Place, although city officials say it is at 196th Street, which is a block away. The homes to the north of Union Turnpike across from Cunningham Park belong to the West Cunningham Park Civic Association.

These homeowners do not know about this proposal yet. The civic e-mailed the board members, who had no problems with the idea except for two who were concerned that too many proposals and activities in the park could add more congestion.

The Parks Committee will try to learn more about farmers markets and have someone come to a March meeting. Some questions were: How many days a week? The hours? Which months? Will anyone certify the vegetables as being organic and bacteria-free? How will trash be removed? How much of the parking lot will be used? What impact will it have on the one-family homes across the street?

This year the Big Apple Circus will be held May 15 to June 15. It comes in about a week prior to set up the tent, which covers the whole parking lot. When it started several years ago, it only stayed two weeks but now has grown to five weeks. Since the circus uses the whole parking lot off 196th Place, parkgoers have been parking on the streets north of Cunningham Park.

Homeowners complained that cars parked on the streets cause congestion, blocking driveways, leaving trash and making it hard for them to have visitors during the weeks when the circus is there. Members of the WCPCA met with CB 8 members, the 107th Precinct and the Big Apple Circus.

An agreement was made which provided more parking in the southern part of the park, trash cans were put out to collect trash from circus-goers, workers went into the streets to sweep trash and a noisy generator was put in the back of the park.

The homeowners from the WCPCA have learned to live with the hordes of people who cover their streets when the circus is in town. They probably do not want further congestion, so plans will have to be studied about a farmers market. One has to understand that people who flow out of a park can cause disruption in a quiet residential neighborhood of one-family homes. People walking through a quiet neighborhood who are talking and laughing and who slam car doors can be a disruption.

GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: A few weeks ago, civic leader Tammy Osherov and I discovered that contractors were cutting down trees in the front of Klein Farm. Other neighbors who watch the farm also called them. CB 8, City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) and state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) were also contacted.

Citations were issued. Osherov, I and a TimesLedger reporter attended the hearing at the city Environmental Control Board in Jamaica. It turned out that the owner of Audrey Realty, Henry Huang, did not come but Ziminag Shen, who rents the farm for the Preschool of America, did to take responsibility for the violations.

An employee came to testify that she called several city agencies about removing the trees and paving over the 100-year-old circular driveway in the front of the property, at 73rd Avenue and 194th Street, but was not told that it was illegal.

In a Feb. 7, 2005, article on the farm, Shen had been given a violation for cutting down trees on a similar property in Staten Island.

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