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."

Though Ritter and Greenmarket staffer Cathy Chambers had an answer for each of those claims (the market could start at 9 a.m., the day could be switched from Sunday to Friday, vendors don’t use street trash bins, shops near Greenmarkets normally see an increase in business, etc.), board members would have none of it. Jim Berlin, the most outspoken critic on the CB12 transportation committee, characterized Ritter’s rebuttals as "inexcusable," and accused Chambers of trying to deceive the board. Other locations — involving the sacrifice of fewer, or no, parking spaces — were suggested, but the board ultimately tabled the resolution on the grounds that more time should be devoted to fleshing out the proposal. The parks committee has been working on the Greenmarket issue since February.

In contrast, a resolution calling for a DOT study on adding angled parking to the west end of Dyckman Street passed unanimously. Dyckman Street, particularly west of Broadway, has been a primary source of "tons" of recent noise complaints, according to CB12 District Manager Ebenezer Smith. In addition, plans to revive the now-shuttered Dyckman Marina, including three food venues with combined seating for 300, have not taken into account the potential subsequent increase in car traffic. At a recent hearing, according to neighborhood newspaper Manhattan Times, would-be marina developers said it is up to the police and DOT to handle congestion caused by their project. For their part, they plan to use car services to ferry customers to and from area garages. 

CB12 members asked no questions before approving the Dyckman Street parking resolution.

Photo: Brad Aaron

  • Pags

    Where is the City Council member and borough president? Those people were elected. Why don’t they have an opinion? Write them and get them on record. It is unacceptable for them to say they defer to the appointed for life community board.

  • In addition, plans to revive the now-shuttered Dyckman Marina, including three food venues with combined seating for 300, have not taken into account the potential subsequent increase in car traffic. At a recent hearing, according to neighborhood newspaper Manhattan Times, would-be marina developers said it is up to the police and DOT to handle congestion caused by their project. For their part, they plan to use car services to ferry customers to and from area garages.

    I don’t understand what the point of this section is. Is Streetsblog accepting the assumption that all of the marina customers would arrive by car?

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Where is the City Council member and borough president? Those people were elected.”

    By a small number of people, all of whom drive everywhere.

  • Cap’n, all will definitely not arrive by car. But Dyckman is already contending with a lot of noise and traffic problems. The marina has been closed for two years, and while I think most everyone wants to see it re-open, neither the city nor the developers nor CB12 seems interested in trying to keep additional traffic to a minimum. Instead, the plan is to add as much parking capacity as possible for two new restaurants and a snack concession at the end of a neighborhood street, with the developers intending to shuttle more customers in and out using car services. The developers have also made it clear that they intend to market to potential patrons outside the neighborhood, and it seems like they expect a lot of them to arrive by car.

    I didn’t bring it up again in this story, but the CB12 transpo committee originally wanted DOT to tear up sidewalks and remove existing bike lanes to make room for more Dyckman parking. That language was removed only after a DOT staffer said it probably would not fly.

    It’s also worth mentioning that, under its former management, the marina was a hub for (among other things) impromptu tailgate parties lasting well into the night. That is still fresh on the minds of many.

  • Sickening.

  • Streetsman

    This Community Board meeting sounds like a (typical) ridiculous farce, but clearly some of the 74 written and email petition-signers needed to show up and voice their support.

    What can you say? Yes there are over 40 other greenmarkets citywide that are cherished by their neighborhoods, but if they really don’t want one because they think it will be too much of a negative impact, so be it. Nevermind that the same board has previously approved two other greenmarkets in their district, including one that takes place in a street where there could be parking and one other that operates on Sundays.

  • I imagine that most board members don’t shop at their neighborhood greenmarkets, and so don’t understand the need for them, but they do drive, so they do understand parking. Indeed, one member of the Traffic & Transpo Committee at a meeting earlier this month voiced his concern that Inwood and Washington Heights might become oversaturated with greenmarkets. Yet, for Inwood residents, Saturday morning (and early afternoon) is a narrow window of time in which to purchase a weekly supply of fresh, local, and sustainably grown fruits and vegetables. An additional Sunday (or Friday) market, situated next to a subway stop, would be of great benefit to many of us in the neighborhoods.

  • Streetsman

    I don’t know why they are wasting their time writing a resolution calling for a study on ways to add more parking spaces. DOT should have a boilerplate response ready stating that they are not interested in studying proposals that encourage more vehicular traffic, such as increases in on-street parking. This city is just too g*ddamn dense for everybody to park a car on the street. Can’t people get that through their heads?

  • Max Rockatansky

    Food or cars – who would think it would be such a difficult question to answer?

  • The marina has been closed for two years, and while I think most everyone wants to see it re-open, neither the city nor the developers nor CB12 seems interested in trying to keep additional traffic to a minimum.

    I see, so the point is really that people are developing an attraction that’s not all that transit-accessible and planning only for car access – in and through a fairly dense urban neighborhood. I’ve never been to this marina, but from the maps it looks like it’s about seven blocks from the A train, which is a pretty long walk in a place that doesn’t have the best reputation for safety.

    More importantly, there are no buses west of Broadway there (or east, for that matter). You would think that the only waterfront access north of 181st Street would be reason enough for the MTA to run a bus there, but apparently not. So it would be nice if the MTA could extend the Bx20 or the M3 to the marina.

    It would also be nice if the developers could sponsor some buses, Ikea-style. If they’re paying for car services (and also paying garage bills?), it wouldn’t cost much more. Am I correct in understanding that they would pay for a car to pick customers up at a garage, but not at the train station? That alone seems, um, ooo….

  • BTW, there do seem to be community boards that do well on livable streets issues, like CB2 and CB4 in Manhattan, and CB1 in Brooklyn (thanks in no small part to various contributors to this blog). What about rating them all on a “Livable Streets Scorecard” that could be mentioned in “thinking of living in …”-type newspaper articles?

  • Yes, Cap’n, the developers and CB12 seem to be focusing on car access, despite the fact that most locals would be walking there.

    While it has its problems, statistically speaking Inwood is on par with, for instance, Midtown South, Gramercy and the East Village when it comes to violent crime, and had fewer murders last year than many “safe” neighborhoods in Manhattan. I doubt you’d find many people who live here who would consider it dangerous to walk from the Dyckman Street A station to the marina.

    So I would not consider the marina transit inaccessible. That said, it would be great if there were a bus stop nearby.

  • Max, you nailed it. Food or cars. And you can plug in pretty much anything else: bikes or cars, pedestrians or cars, parks or cars, whatever or cars. All too often, too many Community Boards opt for the cars.

  • “Livable Streets Scorecard”

    Ooooh I like this idea. What sort of subjects could we grade them on?

    Brad, I agree that area is totally walkable, and safe. I remember seeing a lot of illegal parking at the marina, though– the worst part of walking there was wading through all of the cars parked up on the sidewalk and such. Is that still going on?

  • PS. Please don’t give up, guys. They are counting on you giving up easily and just going away– then they “win” and they can go on and just forget about all of this “Livable Streets” stuff.

  • “Livable Streets Scorecard”

    Ooooh I like this idea. What sort of subjects could we grade them on?

    Parking policy is a big one, of course. Streetsblog has categories of Community Boards and Community Board Reform.

  • Ack

    Is there any plan on getting around CB 12’s obstinance? Any way to get involved? I’m new to the area but would love to see this market come together – it would be a great benefit.

  • Urbanis,

    You guys might want to consider a kind of Grand Army Plaza Coalition model for Inwood. Create a project with its own impetus, stakeholders and political concensus. Invite the local Community Board to join up and become one of many stakeholders involve in your group. Make the CB play on your turf or let them simply exclude themselves from the process altogether. Remember — community boards only have advisory power when it comes to City Hall. Guess what? You have advisory power too! By creating a group that is focused on a specific project and truly representative of the community, your organization can be much more politically potent than a Community Board.

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