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Posts from the "Greenmarkets" Category

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White House Pitches $400M for Healthier Neighborhood Food Outlets

The connection between walkable development and grocery shopping may not seem immediately apparent -- until you consider studies conducted in cities from Austin to Seattle that showed the share of trips taken by foot or by transit rises as local food outlets move closer to residential areas.

31193700_386561bcbd.jpgThe White House budget envisions a new investment in urban farmers markets such as this one, which served D.C.'s low-income Anacostia area for two years. (Photo: DC Food for All)
Even in transit-rich New York, a highly touted new Costco is laying off employees as shoppers avoid its not-too-walkable location. On the flip side, farmers' markets are seeing new growth and serving more lower-income shoppers in Milwaukee, Oakland, and other areas.

Now the White House is getting in on the action, with $400 million included in its fiscal year 2011 budget to support development of new food outlets in urban communities where the nearest grocery store is often a half-mile or more away -- the neighborhoods that policymakers call "food deserts."

The White House proposal is modeled after a Pennsylvania effort that has steered more than $57 million in grants and loans to develop 74 local food markets in lower-income areas of the state. The Obama administration's version would be anchored by $250 million in New Market Tax Credits, which give developers incentive to launch new projects in economically distressed areas.

While the $400 million budget plan is not being directed through the U.S. DOT, it could have a significant upside for urban transportation officials looking to improve access to transit and create new opportunities for walkability.

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Manhattan CB 12 Still Obsessed With Greenmarket Traffic Disruptions

fwgrab.jpgThe intersection of Ft. Washington Ave. and W. 168th St. may soon be a little calmer for a few hours each week. But don't tell CB 12.
Months after Community Board 12 killed plans for a Washington Heights Greenmarket over concerns about parking, a scaled-down market is set to open at a location further south. But not before the board could reiterate its unwavering deference to Upper Manhattan motorists.

The new market is planned for W. 168th Street and Fort Washington Avenue, near New York Presbyterian Hospital. The initial proposal, originated by a Washington Heights resident, would have sited a market on W. 185th Street, adjacent to Bennett Park. CB 12, however, decided that the loss of 19 parking spots for a few hours a week was too great a sacrifice.

The new market will occupy about five street spaces, but in its coverage of a recent committee meeting, the Manhattan Times finds that the board remains preoccupied with motorist convenience.

Committee members and other board members in attendance expressed concern about aggravating the already terrible traffic around the hospital.

"That's something you have to look at very closely," Board Member Emilia Cardona said.

"The north-south traffic is horrible already," added committee member George Preston.

It's true: The hospital area is a traffic sewer. And the best way to ensure it stays that way is to shoot down and nitpick any proposal that would enable pedestrians to repurpose their streets. Lest anyone mistake CB 12's motives with an actual desire for equity among street users, this is the board that overruled the wishes of over 1,000 Greenmarket supporters based on the testimony of three -- three -- who preferred the auto-centric status quo.

In other news, one of the drivers CB 12 members are tripping over themselves to accommodate flipped his car last night near the pedestrian-heavy intersection of W. 207th Street and Broadway in Inwood. Fortunately, no parking spaces were harmed.

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Space-Hogging Drivers, CB 12 Kill Washington Heights Greenmarket

185.jpgCB 12 traded a Greenmarket for 24/7 parking privileges on 185th Street, which holds 19 cars. Photo: Brad Aaron
Last September, Manhattan Community Board 12 tabled a resolution in support of a new Greenmarket for W. 185th Street in Washington Heights. The effort to locate the market was community-driven -- a neighborhood resident gathered 1,000 signatures in support of it -- the board's parks committee was enthusiastically in favor, and the city's Greenmarket office was in the process of securing a tow truck to remove errant vehicles. But the idea stalled when a handful of area residents predicted the market would draw noisy early-morning crowds, and complained that it would tie up the street's 19 parking spots for a few hours a week.

Earlier that month, the board's transportation committee declined to vote on the market, citing concerns over parking. Said committee member Jim Berlin: "There are thousands of people in the area who own cars, any of whom might park there at some point. We want to hear from the community and whether they want to give up their parking." 

Though there were only a few of them at the general meeting (three who weren't board members, to be exact), detractors put on a nasty public show, and the proposal was sent back to the parks committee. Two months ago, the Manhattan Times reports, the board signed off on a different plan: a Friday market on the sidewalk at Ft. Washington Avenue and 181st Street. But it's not going to happen, according to Greenmarket Director Michael Hurwitz.

"That is no more," Hurwitz said. "We found a location that would serve a bigger community."

That location is somewhere around W. 168th Street -- a market that was thought to be yet another greenmarket at the May Community Board 12 Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee meeting.

"The community totally supported the addition of a Greenmarket at 181st Street," said Elizabeth Ritter, chair of the Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee. She pointed out that the 181st Street location was approved by Hurwitz before discussion started about a market near the hospital.

"The community would love to have both," she said.

Had it not been for a relatively tiny number of entitled drivers, and their enablers, the community may have gotten its wish.

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CB12 Derails Greenmarket, Approves Parking Request Unanimously

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More parking means more cars, congestion and noise for Dyckman Street. Says CB12: "Bring it."

Citing fears that it would disrupt the neighborhood and rouse illegally parked motorists from their beds on Sunday mornings, Community Board 12 Tuesday night tabled a recommendation for a new Greenmarket in Washington Heights. Minutes later, without discussion, the board unanimously approved a feasibility study for additional parking on Dyckman Street in Inwood.

About a dozen residents turned out in support of the 185th Street Greenmarket resolution, which was the product of a citizen-generated petition with 1,000 signatures. But since the petition was circulated at a time when Bennett Park was thought to be the top choice for the market location, rather than adjacent 185th Street, CB12's Traffic and Transportation Committee dismissed it, and declined to issue a recommendation earlier this month. Still, the chair of the board's parks committee, Elizabeth Lorris Ritter, said a new petition had 42 signatures from those in favor of a 185th Street market, in addition to 32 e-mails indicating support.

But the three residents who spoke against the market carried the night, conjuring visions of 6 a.m. tow truck sweeps, vendor vehicles snapping tree limbs, and rats descending on 185th to feed on discarded produce. The market would hurt nearby businesses, they said, disturb nearby apartment-dwellers, and force motorists who chose not to obey "No Parking" fliers to get up early to move their cars from 185th Street's 19 parking spots. One was "offended" that the market would operate on the Christian sabbath, while another said that, though "chic and trendy," the market would, in reality, "not serve anybody."

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CB12 Committee Hot for Parking, Cautious on Livable Streets

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To increase the number of spots, angled parking may be coming to both sides of Dyckman Street.

The Traffic and Transportation Committee of Community Board 12 last night welcomed new bike racks in Upper Manhattan, but took a pass on endorsing other livable streets initiatives, including a separated bike path on Dyckman/200th Street that would link the east- and west-side greenways. The committee also passed a resolution calling for more parking on Dyckman and, citing concerns over loss of parking, declined to vote on a proposal for a new Greenmarket in Washington Heights.

The meeting marked the second time the "Dyckman Greenway Connector" proposal has come before the CB12 Transportation Committee, but several members were appointed after the first presentation earlier this year and were unfamiliar with it. Spearheaded by the Inwood and Washington Heights Livable Streets group, the plan calls for a separated bike path along Dyckman, in Inwood, linking the Hudson River and Harlem River Greenways. One of the proposal architects, Maggie Clarke, told the committee that Dyckman -- which lies in close proximity to several parks and boating facilities -- could become a hub for outdoor activity seekers, noting that the East Coast Greenway route runs through Inwood as well.

Though some members seemed taken aback by the scope of the proposal, they encouraged Clarke and fellow LS group member Daniel O'Neil to drum up support from Dyckman businesses (the group has already composed an informational brochure and is working on a bilingual pro-connector petition). It was also pointed out (full disclosure: by yours truly) that DOT normally takes the lead in such projects, and that the proposal may benefit from agency assistance. Committee Chair Mark Levine asked Josh Orzeck, representing DOT at the meeting, if the city might host a design charette. Orzeck said he is not familiar with the intricacies of separated bike paths, but that he would see what resources were available.

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Keeping Cars Out of Greenmarkets

inwoodmkt.jpg
The Inwood Greenmarket, on Isham Street, can tolerate a handful of parked cars ...

In August, the Manhattan Times reported that the city's Greenmarket program was considering a new location at W. 185th Street, near Bennett Park, in Washington Heights. It seems the effort was started by Heights resident and cyclist Marisa Panzani, who was inspired while hauling fresh produce from another market through the hilly 'hood on her bike. Community Board 12 eventually got involved, and is expected to sign off on the location. In order to make it work, however, the Greenmarket program needs a city tow truck to remove any errant vehicles.

Greenmarket Director Michael Hurwitz tells Streetsblog that illegally parked cars are not generally a problem for most Greenmarkets, for several reasons. First of all, residents are usually happy to have a market in their neighborhood.

"We have the support of communities who say, 'We are willing to trade parking for the market,'" Hurwitz says. Also, market personnel can often match a vehicle with its driver, and will knock on doors as early as 6:00 a.m. to get cars moved. Drivers consider such wake-up calls preferable to being ticketed or towed, says Hurwitz.

Cars intruding upon Greenmarket space is a safety issue, and also hampers vendors in loading in and out. Still, Hurwitz says towing is "a last, last resort." But because of the relatively narrow width of W. 185th, a DOT-assigned tow truck is crucial to the potential market's operations -- especially in the beginning, when residents won't be accustomed to keeping the street clear on market days.

"If there's cars on both sides," Hurwitz says, "there's no market."

As of late August, Hurwitz was still awaiting word on the truck.

htsmkt_1.jpg
... but a market on W. 185th Street, in Washington Heights, could not.

Photos: Brad Aaron