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Trouble for Cleveland Park’s Proposed Farmers Market

On Monday we learned Cleveland Park was looking to launch a farmers market every Saturday from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm on Connecticut Ave between 4Ps and the Post Office.

The Advisory Neighborhood Commission voted 4 to 2 to reject the proposed Farmers’ Market.

ANC3C05 Rep Leila Afzal updates on the CP listserv:

A local resident has asked for an explanation of the ANC vote objecting to the issuance of a public space permit for a proposed farmers’ market to be set up on the western side walk on Connecticut Avenue. I am happy to share my reasons for my vote. Although this was a very difficult decision for me, I determined I had too many outstanding questions/concerns to support the application.

First, Brookville opposed the application. They are an anchor for our community and have very much been there for us when we have needed them. They agreed to open up shop when no other grocery stores would (including Magruders which came years later). They have literally opened up and stayed open during blizzards. I could go on about the things they’ve done for the community. I wasn’t persuaded that shoppers would both shop at the farmers’ market and cross Connecticut Avenue to continue shopping at Brookville or Yes. If we are hoping to attract pedestrians more than drivers, people can only carry so much and are not likely to buy a week’s worth of sundries and carry them home.

Second, I was persuaded by my fellow Commissioner, Richard Steacy’s, concerns for his constituents who are very dependent on Brookville. He represents many seniors and young professionals who do not own cars and use Brookville as their primary grocery store. I didn’t want to contribute to the pressure Brookville is already feeling from Petco (pet food sales are down) and CVS and Walgreen’s that have significant grocery departments.

Third, I was not satisfied with the Market manager’s response regarding truck management. She stated that she had secured 6 spaces for the 10 expected trucks. But when asked where the other trucks were going to park, she said two blocks away in the residential neighborhood. Saturday mornings are prime shopping and zoo parking times. This would only add pressure to the shortage of parking we’re already experiencing. She also did not seem to have an enforcement plan if the vendors chose to park in the neighborhood rather than the designated parking spaces.

And finally, there are already 4 farmers’ markets within a short distance of Cleveland Park; two are less than a mile away. Three are also located where there isn’t direct competition with brick and mortar stores. Plus, we heard that Adas Israel may be considering sponsoring a market as well.

There was no one definitive reason why I voted the way I did. It was the cumulative impact of all these reasons that swayed me in one direction. I hope we keep the conversation on farmers’ markets going. Perhaps the proponents can reconsider moving the market to John Eaton or other locations near the heart of Cleveland Park and not just on the commercial strip.

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