Monday, October 5, 2009

Penn Quarter Jewel at Risk

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.

Vehicular Dominance
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Space Manager at the Department of Transportation Public Space Management Office requesting that the Market’s permit be rescinded.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

22 comments:

  1. The market is really well located where it is and absolutely should not be moved. 8th st is very low traffic so its perfect where it is! I do wish it stayed open a little later :)

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  2. We love the market. It is wonderful and very useful to the neighbors and those working in the area. The location on a quite street with little traffic (that is why this person seems to be able to make better time that way) because it does not go through is perfect. We cannot imagine a better site and hope it does not move. The inconvenience for one person or even a few more is nothing compared to the service for so many.

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  3. The Penn Quarter Farmers Market is such a blessing to our neighborhood. With each of the last four years that I have lived downtown, I have grown to rely on it more. I began with browsing and buying a couple of items to now buying most of my produce from the variety of vendors. I am not alone in regularly meeting friends there who work in the area. I am always impressed with the large crowd, wide variety of products, and most importantly, our local chefs. On more than one occassion, I have seen the chefs of Poste roll their carts down to the market to shop. I have also seen celebrity chefs shopping, as well.

    The enclosed setting of 8th Street allow people to focus on the products instead of worrying about busy traffic. I would hate for a smaller area to create crowding or prevent the variety of vendors. I visited the USDA Farmers Market and it pales in comparison. Maybe this person can work from home on Thursdays.

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  4. This is quite outrageous! Perhaps Mr. Crerar can investigate using Metro and mingle with the common folk for 20 minutes a day instead of requesting a neighborhood market moved so he can save 15 minutes of his driving time! Simply amazing...

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  5. Mr. Ken Crerar sure sounds like a guy who thinks the world revolves around him. D.C. is rightly in the business of building sustainable, livable, and walkable communities. Having a place that sells food for the folks that live and work in Penn Quarter is much more conducive to that goal than is making life 15-minutes-worth more convenient to the likes of Mr. Crerar.

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  6. I wonder how Mr. Crerar would like it if a downtown denizen tried to meddle with his upper NW neighborhood that he lives in. Miles, any organized resistance to this balderdash...count me IN.

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  7. Two words - INSURANCE LOBBY

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  8. Let's move it to 701 Pennsylvania Ave, Suite 750, aka the home of the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers. That would be more convenient for me. Who's with me?

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  9. Amazing! Where does this guy live? No doubt he is communting from the burbs and is more than happy to treat DC like his trash can. More than happy to fight this guy and all the self-appointed "colonial masters" of DC every inch of the way.

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  10. Mr. Crerar appears to be a renter in DC. I can't find him listed as a property owner in DC or the burbs.

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  11. In addition to being the President of the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, Ken Crerar is one of the principals of a luxury food importer. According to their web site, "The Rogers Collection imports extraordinary foods of distinctive quality to the American table." You would think he would have some appreciation for fresh, locally produced food. The site also says he lives in Washington and Harpswell, Maine.

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  12. I have a bit of advice for Mr. Cryer - leave your posh offices 15 minutes early on Thursdays.

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  13. How did the DNA learn about this request?

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  14. It is simply inconceivable to me that closing that block of 8th Street somehow delays Mr. Crerar's progress home by fifteen-minutes. That makes no sense whatsoever.

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  15. By closing down the market, not only will it improve his commute, but the restaurants that buy food at our market may have to buy food from his luxury food import group? He'll spend less time in traffic and make more money, while everyone else can go to grocery stores.

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  16. Mr. Crerar - http://www.zoominfo.com/Search/PersonDetail.aspx?PersonID=1158861

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  17. If you take eighth street, that is only ONE BLOCK. So he is necessarily saying it takes him 15 minutes to go one block on 7th or 9th. Once he goes his one block on 8th, he has no choice but to get on 7th or 9th St. So he's complaining about diring one block on 7th or 9th st. Since I live at 9th & E, I can say this doesn't pass the smell test. Maybe south a number of blocks by the 395 exit on 9th, on a bad day, but not at E St. or F st, which is what he is complaining about. Maybe if there was an accident on one Thursday at just the right spot, but really, I would like to see him demonstrate this 15 minutes.

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  18. I find it absolutely incredulous that changing his commute by one block, is adding 15 minutes to his ride home. I live at 8th & D and have driven my car out many a Thursday afternoon, following the same route Mr. Crerar would take to 12th Street. I think it would be an overstatement to say that having 8th Street closed adds 5 minutes to my trip.

    There's definitely some other reason Mr. Crerar wants our market closed. Does he also want the Verizon Center to stop having events? The traffic on the night of a Caps/Wizards game or a concert is far worse than that on a market day. How much time is added to his commute on those nights?

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  19. The market does need a few things. At this time of year there is a need for lighting. The temporary lights are ok but a more decorative and festive lighting plan needs to be developed and funded.
    I personally would like a small demonstration/cooking area for sampling etc. also temporary chairs and small tables. The market is so delightful that sometimes I want to sit for a few minutes and watch people shop.

    ooops I think I just added a few minutes to this guys commute.

    Steve

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  20. I think Mr. Ken Crerar of the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers and luxury food importer "The Rogers Collection" is going to discover that Google is not his friend.

    Ken Crerar wants to have the city close a successful neighborhood farmer's market because...gasp!...he has to detour one block once a week on his way somewhere else. And somehow this also takes him 15 minutes?

    In addition to being a cad, he must also be slow.

    City: leave the market open
    Crerar: get a life

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  21. Just another selfish suburban jackass. I hate these people with a passion and I wish there was some way to prevent them from ever stepping foot in the city. Surbanites can rot in hell for all I care.

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  22. I agree with all the wonderful comments posted. Is there a way to send these comments to the major city decisionmaker(s) who will review Mr. Crerar's self-serving request? I can't imagine one of the neighborhood's best located markets would be relocated to appease this dishonorable man. Perhaps the DNA can provide the link to send these comments to the Mayor and ANC commissioners.

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