Community Board 11 voted last night to approve a permit that would allow a green market to operate at Douglaston’s Long Island Rail Road station, despite vocal opposition from a group of homeowners who live within a few blocks of the proposed site.
The board voted 31-7 in favor of allowing GrowNYC, which operates the massive green market at Union Square, to set up a market with nine vendors at 41st Avenue and 235th Street.
The market would operate Sundays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 10 through November 20.
Douglaston residents and business owners turned out en masse to call on the board to vote favorably on the permit for the market. They said the green market would help to revitalize the neighborhood’s shopping strip along 235th Street.
“It is supported by the community and it will help with the restoration of Douglaston Village,” said Julia Schoeck, president of the Douglaston-Little Neck Historical Society.
Douglas Montgomery, vice president of the community’s garden club, said he floated the idea of the green market a year-and-a-half ago and that the idea has drawn support from a wide swath of Douglaston’s residents.
“By approving this measure tonight, you are investing and bringing a wonderful addition to this community,” he told the board.
But a group of residents who live in an area comprised of 66 homes known as Doug Bay Manor turned out to plead with CB 11 to reject the permit. They said the market would bring additional noise and traffic to their neighborhood on Sundays as well as block emergency vehicles.
“The people who live in the area are horrified at what is being proposed,” said Ann Jawin, president of the Doug Bay Manor Civic Association and founder of the Center for the Women of New York. “The green market would completely destroy our quiet Sundays.”
Tom Pinto, vice president of the civic, said the group supported the idea for a green market, but not at the proposed location. He suggested moving the vendors across the LIRR tracks to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s parking lot.
“The civic association is not against the farmer’s market,” he said. “We are against the location. The reason for the roundabout is for people to be dropped off at the railroad station. We need for police, fire engines and ambulances to be able to get through.”
But Mike Hurwitz, director of GrowNYC’s green markets, said the city’s Police and Fire departments would not sign off on the plan for the market unless it allowed for emergency vehicles to enter the area. The Douglaston market would only block off the LIRR roundabout, but would not take parking spaces away from the community, he said.
“We chose the roundabout because it is an ideal location,” he said. “It has proximity to the train station. There would be sufficient space for emergency vehicles to get in. We could not operate any other way. The only way our markets work is if we are good neighbors.”
The Douglaston market’s vendors would include Newgate Farms, which specializes in fruit and vegetables, Grayledge Farms, which offers meats, Lucky Dog, Nolasco Farms, Cherry Grove’s cow’s milk and cheese, American Seafood, Bread Alone, Madura Farms, and Toigo Orchards.
“We have 53 markets in the five boroughs and we hope that Douglaston will be our 54th,” Hurwitz said. “Everything is grown, raised, caught and baked regionally.”
The market would include 14 to 16 tents, one of which would be utilized by an on-site manager. Vendors would be responsible for removing their own garbage.
The application for the Douglaston market is for a five-month period, which would force GrowNYC to come back to CB 11 at the end of the season to apply for next year’s permit.
The market is located down the street from P.S. 98 and several community churches. But its supporters have pointed out that there will likely be more parking spaces available on the weekends because the school will be closed.
Hurwitz said the MTA has agreed to allow people to pay to park in its lot across the tracks. The green market would likely validate parking tickets for its patrons.
Rev. Linden DeBie, of the nearby Community Church of Douglaston, showed up at CB 11’s meeting to offer the parking lot to the green market’s customers from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“We are a community church and committed to serving the community,” he said. “If parking is an issue, we have a large, 50-car lot. We are happy to make the needs of the community our needs.”
Jane Stewart, of Douglaston’s Local Development Corporation, said the market’s supporters have collected an estimated 300 petition signatures.
GrowNYC, which was founded in 1976, also operates smaller markets in Glendale’s Shops at Atlas Park, Corona, Jackson Heights, Astoria and Long Island City.