The Week Ahead… & Whose Ox is Being Gored on Opening/Closing 7th Street? – It’s Complicated
by Larry Janezich
The Week Ahead is Quiet.
And in Other News….
Whose Ox is Being Gored on Opening/Closing 7th Street? – It’s Complicated
by Larry Janezich
Last Tuesday night, the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee met in Eastern Market’s North Hall to continue receiving comment on whether the 200 and 300 blocks of 7th Street should remain closed to weekend vehicular traffic.
It’s complicated. It’s not just a simple matter of who will be helped or hurt by opening the street, but, rather, a question of whose ox is being gored.
The food merchants in Eastern Market’s South Hall predict the demise of the food market within ten years if measures are not taken to mitigate the lack of vehicular access to the market, including opening of 7th Street to traffic on weekends. Some of the most active voices on this issue are long-time merchants who have built product lines based on the desires of long term customers, many of whom no longer live in the neighborhood and must drive to the market.
The Eastern Market outside arts and crafts merchants who set up on the 200 block of 7th outside Eastern Market see their livelihoods threatened if the street is open to traffic, which would result in their displacement and relocation to less trafficked areas. Artist-vendor Joe Snyder says that appealing to the Hill’s new population is the only way forward and sees the controversy as symptomatic of “what trouble we’re having in reaching out to this new population”.
But those same arts and crafts vendors, while supporting the continued closure of 7th Street, do not want to see additional flea market vendors occupying space on the 300 block of 7th Street if the street remains closed to traffic.
A long time vendor on Eastern Market’s North Plaza says that her income has dropped precipitously because there are so many vendors siphoning the dollars of shoppers before they get to her jewelry stand at the north end of Eastern Market, and adding more vendors (if 7th Street remains closed) will only make it more difficult. That sentiment is shared by the arts and craft folk on the 200 block.
The managers of the two separate flea markets which set up on the 300 block of 7th Street who are scheduled to move to the newly reopened C Street in the middle of the Hine Project want to continue to use the 300 block on 7th Street after the move to restore the number of vendors they had when they were on the Hine playground. (Ed. note: A previous version of this paragraph lead some readers to believe the flea market managers want to expand their markets beyond the original number rather than restore their original number of spaces. For flea market manager Mike Berman’s response to that interpretation, see his comment below.) They urge keeping the street closed, but seem prepared to fight any attempt by Eastern Market and the Department of General Services to bring in other flea market managers to compete with their flea markets should the city decide to keep 7th closed. Expansion of the flea markets to include both C Street and the 300 block would not be welcomed by the vendors on the 200 block of 7th.
And then there are those who urge not rushing a decision without knowing what the consequences will be. Former EMCAC Chair Ellen Opper-Weiner says, “We can’t make a decision in a vacuum – there’s been no study, no evaluation.” Community activist Bobbi Krengel said that the Project for Public Space (PPS) could do just such a study. Krengel noted that “Eastern Market is a synergistic market and none of the components can exist by itself,” and that the most important component is the historic municipal market.
ANC6B Commissioner Diane Hoskins, in whose single member district the Market lies, had the final word at the meeting, saying that she was on the record supporting the continued closure of 7th Street on weekends, adding, “…a lively open market is crucial to the success of all parts of the market.” Capitol Hill Corner reported last week that Councilmember Charles Allen supports continued closure.
EMCAC Chair Donna Scheeder announced that the EMCAC’s record will remain open until Tuesday, August 22, for comments on 7th Street. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
ANC6B will meet at 7:30pm on Tuesday, August 29 in Hill Center, to allow residents and stakeholders a final opportunity to make public comments on the status of 7th Street.
For previous postings on this issue, see here: http://bit.ly/2uEMi9N