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CB 11 to decide fate of Douglaston green market

GrowNYC’s proposed farmers market in Douglaston is described by supporters as being green, but it has its detractors seeing red.

Next week, Community Board 11 will hold a public hearing on the proposal for a greenmarket to be located on the north side of the Long Island Rail Road tracks in the turn-around area across from where 235th Street meets 41st Avenue. If approved, the market would be open Sundays between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. from July 10 to Nov. 30.

It would consist of six to eight vendors from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Long Island and upstate New York selling fruits vegetables, meats, fish and dairy products.

“A lot of people are really excited about this,” said Douglaston Local Development Corp. board member Jane Stewart.

The Douglaston LDC, along with the Douglaston Garden Club, began discussing the proposal about a year and a half ago, and has been instrumental in expressing the community’s interest to GrowNYC, the nonprofit that operates greenmarkets throughout the city. Stewart said she presented CB 11 with more than 220 expressions of interest and has the support of the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Woman’s Club of Douglaston.

“The LDC started this as an attempt to revitalize the area. There are a lot of vacant or empty stores,” said Stewart. She said several locations were considered before the LDC and GrowNYC decided to place it in the turn-around area.

But it’s this particular location that has some members of the community opposing the proposal.

“I think greenmarkets are a good thing — the idea of quality and freshness,” said Eliott Socci, president of the Douglaston Civic Association. “The problem I have is the location and availability of parking.”

Socci said he believes the area already suffers from inadequate parking and that an influx of shoppers would choke the streets, causing them to park in residential neighborhoods.

“I think the idea of parking is a little bit hysterical,” Stewart said.

She said GrowNYC had reached a deal with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to allow greenmarket customers to park in the privately operated lot by the station for $5. Stewart also said that just last week she secured an agreement with the Community Church of Douglaston to allow parking in its lot. Stewart said she has conducted surveys and believes most people plan to walk to the greenmarket.

“Nobody’s going to pay $5 when they can park for free in our community. We already get that five days a week, and we look forward to Saturdays and Sundays for relief,” said Ann Jawin, chairwoman of the Doug-Bay Civic Association. “The main issue is traffic safety for our community.”

GrowNYC operates greenmarkets in Corona, Astoria, Sunnyside, Jackson Heights and Elmhurst and one in Socrates Park that was relocated after it did not take hold in Long Island City. Greenmarkets must come back to the local community board each year for approval, and Stewart described the Douglaston market as being on an experimental basis.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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