‘Flea’ causing an itch in Ft. Greene

The runaway popularity of a flea market on Lafayette Avenue bothers some neighbors who complain it’s made parking scarce and garbage plentiful on their brownstone blocks.

Brooklyn Flea, the three-month-old Sunday market in the Bishop Loughlin HS parking lot, became an instant magnet for thousands of leisurely shoppers and hundreds of merchants, but people who lived nearby say the burst of activity has made the Sabbath more stressful.

“There’s no parking at all and my vehicle was banged up by a vendor,” said Ramesh Kauden, who’s lived on Carlton Avenue for 40 years.

In fact, some “no parking” signs are hung on the Flea’s side of the street to facilitate the loading and unloading of antiques, handcrafts, vintage clothing and furniture, which arrive around 7 am and depart by 6:30 pm. Some parkers reportedly ignore these signs, leading vendors to double-park near the entrances to the schoolyard between Vanderbilt and Clermont avenues.

Other residents say litter overflows area trashcans.

“It took all this time to clean up this place, now they want to come in and drop more garbage on the neighborhood,” said Frank, who did not want to give his last name, a Fort Greene resident for 31 years.

The complainers now have the ear of Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene), who said she’s received calls about wandering flea market patrons sitting on area stoops and locking their bicycles to gates or on scaffolding in front of Queen of All Saints Church across the street.

The church has become a hotbed for anti-flea sentiment.

But even in the immediate vicinity of Brooklyn Flea, many people give the swap meet a thumbs up, though they’re reluctant to publicly disagree with their neighbors.

“It’s nice to have local artists here, and people buying their stuff,” said Irene, who didn’t want to give her last name because she know other people on Clermont dislike the flea market. “It’s true that sometimes parking is hard on Sundays, but this is the city. It’s always difficult to find parking.”

The organizers of Brooklyn Flea will meet their accusers head on in a meeting on Thursday night at the church.

Jonathan Butler, co-creator of the Flea and founder of the Web site brownstoner.com, hopes to smooth things over.

“The last thing we want to do is stir up any problems,” he said. He told The Brooklyn Paper that he and his staff have made improvements by hiring a cleaning staff and security guards. He added that his critics have never responded to his attempts to meet with them in the past.

“it’s unclear if there are substantive issues here or if they just dislike the flea market,” Butler said.

“We’re going to the meeting with a positive outlook and the hope that when we can get together we can work this out,” he said.

Brooklyn Flea vs. the neighbors, Thursday, July 24 at Queen of All Saints Church (Lafayette Avenue, between Vanderbilt and Clermont avenues), 7 pm.