Keeping Cars Out of Greenmarkets

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.

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

Photos: Brad Aaron