The Absolute Last Straw: City Wants to Kick Out Red Hook Food Vendors
More than once, we've looked at the Red Hook Ballfields and wondered how long the food scene and vendors would be able to survive, especially with the behemoth Ikea opening next year. They may only last until September, according to the depressing news first conveyed by Grub Street:
The Red Hook ball fields, home to the city’s most beloved cluster of food vendors, may be closing for good in September. The city, eager as ever for the fat stacks that only a bidding war by commercial concessions can offer, has given the vendors notice that their Temporary Use Agreement, the permit given to them by the Department of Parks and Recreation, won’t be renewed. The city wants to open the parks up for concession bids, which will almost certainly mean an end to the makeshift food stalls that have been operating there for over ten years.Today's Daily News reports that the vendors have been operating with two-week temporary use agreements that are renewed and that the Parks Department wants a long-term agreement via a competitive bidding process for the space:
“They told us that the last day we can operate in the park is September 8,” Cesar Fuentes, the executive director of the Food Vendors Committee of Red Hook Park, Inc. “The only person that can extend our permit beyond this season is the Commissioner of Parks.”
"We really felt it would be more appropriate for them to have a longer-term use license rather than renewing two-week permits throughout the summer," said Warner Johnston, a spokesman for the Parks Department. The concession contract for the park would be put out to competitive bidding, Johnston said, with hopes that the vendors would be able to stay."Hopes," however do not mean a lot in a competitive bidding situation, particularly when the mom & pop Latino vendors could be bidding against deep pockets.
There's been some serious reaction already. It's worth reading the post on Serious Eats that calls the decision "a travesty" and promises a petition. Meantime,
We are going to drop all pretense of being open minded and say that this is the most outrageous, reprehensible and despicable piece of news we have seen of late and, God knows, there's been plenty of it around. One might even go so far as to suggest that the Parks Department is targeting Latino food vendors so that it can sell the concession to a corporation. GL's blood is boiling.
That the city would force out the Latino Red Hook vendors so that it can make more money from commercial concessions, possibly ones that will cater more to shoppers at the new Ikea, is a symptom of the disease of empty prosperity that consuming Brooklyn.
Here's a handy email link for Mr. Benepe. To give him a piece of your mind about this outrage, click here. Likewise, to tell the Mayor what you think of a Parks Commissioner and a City Administration that would kill off one of our Brooklyn treasures, click here.
Email. Call. Write. Fax. Petition. Repeat After Us: SAVE OUR RED HOOK VENDORS!!!!!!