Penn Quarter Farmers Market
The Penn Quarter Farmers Market that is operated by Fresh Farms is a neighborhood jewel serving residents and workers across or downtown neighborhoods. The Market has operated seasonally for seven years on Thursday afternoons on the north end of 8th Street between D and E Streets. It is a great place to go and observe the crowded market a patrons snack and buy from the breadth of the products that can be found.
When the market is not operating, 8th Street is usually quiet with a use that seems dominated by on-street parking and parking garages from the surrounding mixed-use buildings. It is an abbreviated street that is interrupted by the museums, pedestrian malls, the Carnegie Library and the Convention Center. For many, in a city that seems dominated by automobiles trying to get in and out of our neighborhood, this use is a nice pedestrian respite. No doubt, some who lose on-street parking are inconvenienced when the market is open. And, those leaving the garages from the commercial and mixed use buildings who want to go north for a block on 8th Street must take different paths. But, for the majority who live and walk to work or work and take the metro this is market is a great amenity.
Recently, Mr. Ken Crerar, president of The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers contacted the Public Space Manager at the Department of Transportation Public Space Management Office requesting that the Market’s permit be rescinded. Mr. Crerar suggests that the market find another suitable location elsewhere in Penn Quarter. The problem he cites is traffic congestion on 7th and 9th Street can be avoided by using 8th Street northward to E Street where he connects with 12th Street to go Massachusetts Avenue. On Thursdays the congestion costs Mr. Crerar up to 15 minutes. And for this 15 minutes, he wants our Market moved despite the number of people it serves.
He suggests that this market be put in front of the Market Square buildings. However, this space is much smaller than the space now used by the market since the area is either the Navy Memorial or a small space between the two buildings. He also suggests that parking be taken from F Street and the promenade on the south side of the Smithsonian Galleries be used. This would be a great idea except that F Street, unlike 8th Street is very busy with parking, pedestrian and vehicular traffic. And, unlike 8th Street, the promenade is not city controlled. But, it is a location with possibilities. However, with the inclusion of the SmartBike racks on F Street and the need to keep access on the South side of the museum open, this suggestion has its on problems.
Pennsylvania Avenue Plan
Jo-Ann Neuhaus, executive director with the Penn Quarter Neighborhood Association (PQNA) notes that the pedestrian focus of 8th Street is consistent with the Pennsylvania Avenue Plan. She is a neighborhood advocate who can claim the honor of “being there” when the plans for Pennsylvania Avenue Downtown were developed. She points out that the Pennsylvania Avenue Plan states:
“Along Eighth Street, as on Square 407, new development would reinforce the pedestrian character of the street . . . .Although vehicular traffic would be allowed, Eighth Street would be treated as a “special street” under the Corporation’s Side Street Improvement Plan, with improvements designed to enhance the residential environment.”
Several residents are concerned the possible loss of 15 minutes could force the entire neighborhood to adapt to the one individual rather than the one individual adapting for a market that serves so many and has become the Jewel of Penn Quarter. The Downtown Neighborhood Association(DNA) agrees with this concern and objects to any effort by the city to move our market. As noted above, this street is intended to serve as a “special street” designed to enhance the residential environment.
Make Our Voices Known
While we anticipate that the city will not rescind the market's permit, this is more certain if we make sure our council members and the Mayor know that we support this market and do not want to see it moved.
Miles E. Groves