Flea bitten? Locals upset that antique and food market now wants a loading zone • Brooklyn Paper

Flea bitten? Locals upset that antique and food market now wants a loading zone

Brooklyn Flea organizers want the city to set aside the south side of Lafayette Avenue on Saturdays so their vendors can have a loading zone.
File photo by Stefano Giovannini

Organizers of the Brooklyn Flea want the city to reserve a busy block of Lafayette Avenue as a loading dock for vendors at their bustling Saturday souk — but Fort Greene residents are complaining about the high cost: 10 parking spaces in an already crowded neighborhood.

Flea operators want to set aside the entire south side of Lafayette Avenue from 7-10 am and again from 5-8 pm so that vendors won’t double-park when they set up and break down their booths.

The Flea has operated in the schoolyard of Bishop Loughlin Memorial HS for four years. On a typical Saturday, roughly 150 vendors begin unloading when the gates open at 7 am. A handful of early birds park on Clermont Avenue at 6 am and wait.

Traffic is busiest from 7:30 to 9 am, when some sellers who don’t snag spots on Clermont and Vanderbilt avenues double-park on Lafayette Avenue to unload.

Some locals, however, feel that losing six hours of Saturday parking space is too much to ask from an area already teeming with cars.

“I live on this block, so why can’t I park on my block?” said Carolyn Mayers-Williams, who actually lives a bit further away near Carlton Avenue and was one of 17 residents who vented their anger to Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) on Monday night.

Mayers-Williams added that she gets angry when she sees vendors take up spots near her house while she’s forced to park in a garage.

Flea co-founder Jonathan Butler admitted that there’s “no silver bullet” to fix the parking troubles in the neighborhood, but added, “We are just trying to make life easier and safer.”

Butler said that parking is “the third rail of politics,” but argued that a free spot on the street is a privilege, not a right.

“The last thing we want to do is try to make it some adversarial thing,” he said, “but no one owns these spaces.”

Community Board 2 Transportation Committee will take up the issue at its next meeting at St. Francis College [180 Remsen St. between Clinton and Court streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 596-5410] on May 17 at 6 pm.

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