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Community, Shoppers, Media Still Reacting to Attempted Flea Crushing

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With the comments thread on our post about the Queen of All Saints Church meeting in Fort Greene about the Brooklyn Flea still raging, we think two recent weigh-ins deserve a new post. The first:

The racial politics of this post really creep me out. Why did you enter the meeting, which has no real public importance, when politely asked not to? Given that the flea market is a big deal (hyped up in the New York Times and elsewhere) in what is clearly not a commercial space, hearing from the stakeholders (which certainly includes churchgoers) seems appropriate. The main question for me is why such meetings weren't held before the flea market opened.
Of course, someone (who seems pretty well-versed on the situation) has a lengthy response:
QAS had already held TWO meetings focused solely on complaints about the Flea, and rebuffed attempts by its management (which got wind of same through the grapevine after QAS stuffed flyers under selected doors) to attend both to address whatever problems were at issue. QAS was just working on building up a head of steam and wanted to air their complaints more loudly, this time with the Flea management present, and in front of our elected officials - with nobody being allowed to represent the other side, and no press permitted to cover what could essentially have been a private hanging.

Apparently the church hadn't realized that the elected reps would step up to defend small business and local employment, and urge a rational discussion. Further, the Flea has a permit from the City (groundplans approved, etc. - no variance was required, either), and its occupancy of the BLHS schoolyard is completely legal. And the Flea's management DID in fact contact QAS before it opened for business; there was a brief phone conversation, and no objections. The basic issue here is parking, and parishioner's expressed distaste for commerce on their doorstep. But Sundays aren't holy to everyone, and QAS has no right to dictate what happens while they worship, for blocks around the site they own. And nobody, including churchgoers, has a god-given right to hog all the public parking on a particular day of the week. Lord knows parishioners of every church in the neighborhood have never been shy about double parking and inconveniencing everyone else who lives nearby.

The Flea is actually being more respectful of the neighborhood than the church has been, historically: it has reserved spaces for merchants to drop off goods when they're setting up, but then those trucks move on. Those who have to drive to QAS for Sunday services likely don't live in the neighborhood anyway, and could probably take public transportation if they were so devoted to services at QAS. QAS maintained that its senior parishioners were "afraid of tripping over bicycles locked to the scaffold." But that activity has been virtually eliminated, with the cooperation of the Flea, and new bike racks will be provided. QAS didn't want to hear about solutions. It just wanted the Flea gone, as soon as possible. "Stakeholders" include those selling at the Flea, many of them local residents, and those employed by the Flea. They should all have been welcome, and their voices heard. Instead, QAS created a PR nightmare for itself, and lost what credibility it may have had when its parishioners started in with the anti-semitic conspiracy theories. Enough already.

· Church vs. Commerce: Parishioners Try to Take the Brooklyn Flea Down [Racked]