Written by Wendy Karpel Kreitzman Friday, 11 February 2011 00:00
The Village of Great Neck has taken a major step in once again considering a farmers’ market in the Village Green. At a recent board of trustees meeting, the mayor and board of trustees authorized the Great Neck Park District to begin the process of providing a once-a-week farmers’ market. The park district, having presented the proposal, is now charged with working out the details and developing an inter-municipal agreement between the village and the park district.
Village of Great Neck Mayor Ralph Kreitzman explained that there had been a similar farmers’ market proposal several years ago, but it never came to fruition, mainly due to resistance from merchants who feared it would negatively impact on their business.
Mayor Kreitzman did tell the Great Neck Record that “clearly there is public support in favor of a farmers’ market.” He said that a number of focus groups conducted in connection with the village’s Old Village/New Main Street revitalization program indicated that residents wanted a green market.
However, before finalizing any plans the park district presents, the mayor said that he wants “further input, including input from potentially affected merchants.”
Mayor Kreitzman added that “The last thing we want to do is hurt any of our businesses.”
Great Neck Park District Commissioner Ivar Segalowitz, in favor of the Village Green farmers’ market from the start, said that the concept always springs from “grassroots pressure from people” who have told both the park district and the Old Village that this is what they want.
Commissioner Segalowitz is once again dealing with a Long Island farmers’ organization, but further details will have to wait a few weeks as his contact is away. He said that he is “not 100 percent” positive that the green market will be a go, but he does believe that a farmers’ market in Great Neck is first on the list for new locations for the new season (after the existing farmers’ markets). “I’m hopeful,” the commissioner told the Record.
Commissioner Segalowitz said that, if approved, the market would be a once-a-week event. Although he is unsure of which day of the week would be chosen, he did say that it would be an early morning market, running from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Mr. Segalowitz explained that New York State law requires that products for sale at such a green market must be grown, caught or baked locally. In addition to Long Island farmers bringing their locally grown fruits and vegetables (must be grown that week), local bakeries would be encouraged to participate and possibly they could arrange cooking demonstrations by local restaurants. And Mr. Segalowitz noted that the market would not be like a typical local green grocer, where all sorts of fruits and vegetables are sold; this would have just the current week’s produce.
Coupons for the green market would be available for senior citizens and local stores would be encouraged to offer their own coupons on display tables, to encourage further local shopping.
The highly popular Harvest Festival the park district has held on the Village Green for the last few years has further encouraged the park district to go ahead with plans for a weekly farmers’ market.
“This will bring pedestrians and other shoppers to the Village Green and to the village shops,” Mr. Segalowitz said, adding that “the village’s vote allows a green market venue for the park district.”
Mr. Segalowitz’s thoughts were supported by Dadras Architects, the consultants who are working with the Village of Great Neck’s revitalization program. Both Victor and Robert Dadras told the Record that the focus groups they conducted in the Old Village indicate residents’ desire for a green market, and, as well, professional research points to green markets bringing more people, and more money, to local business districts on the market days and beyond.
Victor Dadras said that there was basically no opposition to a farmers’ market when it was discussed in his focus groups, just some concern about hurting local businesses. Mr. Dadras indicated that his firm’s number one goal is to boost local businesses and he believes that a green market would make the market day a “community event” from which everyone would benefit. “We see no negatives,” he said.
Robert Dadras said that often a farmers’ market is run right next to a supermarket, often in the parking lot. While a shopper might want that week’s locally grown tomatoes and corn, the next stop would be a full shopping at the supermarket. And since the farmers’ market would be limited to selling only fresh (that week) local produce, there would really not be competition with local supermarkets or green grocers. Mr. Dadras said that a farmers’ market would be beneficial to the entire community, “almost like a festival day” once a week, where residents and shoppers from other communities would come to shop in the Old Village, stopping in to many local businesses.
Past farmers’ market proposals were not supported by the Great Neck Chamber of Commerce, whose members had great concerns that green markets would hurt local green grocers. Chamber President Valerie Link told the Record: “If this is what the merchants want, I am not going to do anything to block it. We will support whatever the merchants want. We were just trying to protect them in the past.”