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The flea stays, Renegade is out at East River Park

The Brooklyn Paper
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The Renegade Craft Fair is out, but the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg will get to stay in the East River State Park for another year.

At a meeting hosted by the Friends of East River State Park to discuss the conditions in the new park, some neighbors reiterated their complaints about the constant infiltration of commercial ventures into the public space. The state responded by declaring that it would nix Renegade, a festival that has met at the park only once in 2013, according to Jackie Meyer, head of the volunteer organization.

But some residents feel that is not enough, and that the Flea and Smorgasburg, which this year occupied the park every weekend day for eight months, are the real problem. Meyer hoped that some kind of compromise could be reached, but locals were adamant.

“I suggested that the Flea take a couple of holiday breaks,” said Meyer. “But they were very resistant to the idea.”

For $1,500 a day, the Brooklyn Flea rents the smaller of the two slabs of concrete in the park. This year, the state gave them the space every Saturday and Sunday from April to November.

Residents claim they have not been able to escape the constant bombardment of tourists, noise and trash created by the Brooklyn Flea and its sister venture, Smorgasburg. Besides, they say it just takes up too much space inside the normally bucolic park.

“It’s not fair to the community,” said Jonathan Burkan, who lives across the street. “When do we get a rest?”

Renegade, which operates in a few cities around the country, hosted two craft fairs in the park in 2012, but only one this year, in June. Company officials said they were disappointed to learn that the state wasn’t going to allow them back.

“We will miss showcasing talented Brooklyn makers with the beautiful East River State Park as our backdrop,” said Renegade spokeswoman Erin Dollar.

Park official Dan Keefe did not comment on Renegade, but said the state is currently working with the Brooklyn Flea to negotiate the terms of a 2014 lease.

Regardless of their complaints about the Brooklyn Flea occupying the park every weekend, many Williamsburgers agree that the Flea has addressed most of the problems the residents had. For example, some drivers could not see around large trucks that were parking on the corner of N. Eighth Street and Kent Avenue, but once the neighbors mentioned it, the trucks were moved.

“It wasn’t a problem from then on,” said Meyer.

Brooklyn Flea co-owner Jonathan Butler said he has tried to be a good neighbor.

“Any new location, you’re going to have to work out the kinks, and we had more people show up than we ever could have imagined,” said Butler. “But in this first year, I think we’ve proven ourselves to be reliable neighbors.”

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
Updated 10:15 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
Catering to locals so they can preserve their bucolic slab of concrete? An empty slab of concrete isn't the best use of a park.
Oct. 10, 2013, 7:33 am
from brooklyn from brooklyn says:
I don't understand how anyone from somewhere in America can move to brooklyn and bring there values of no noise there. Go back to where you came folks..its an urban metropolis not a suburban one. Or move to long island. The neighbors have to understand that this is what makes the city tick. People and constant movement. It would not be New York without that. Are folks trying to turn Williamsburg in the New Hampshire.. If thats the case then move to New Hampshire. Let the Brooklyn Flea and Smashboard..lol live on
Oct. 10, 2013, 8:52 am
Open Bidding from Williamsburg says:
The state should have open bidding on this land to get the most money. That is not happening.
Oct. 10, 2013, 10:35 am
eric from Williamsburg says:
It IS the Flea and Smorgagburg that MAKE a public park a suburban mall. Idiot.
Oct. 10, 2013, 1:37 pm
dave from bushwick says:
i got bored reading this. i'm glad they didn't let the NIMBY's yawn all over the delights of smorgasburg. see ya saturday, losers!
Oct. 10, 2013, 4:09 pm
More Money from Williamsburg says:
The state should be getting 500k a season from a group like the flea not 120k.

http://commercialobserver.com/2013/10/brooklyn-flea-signs-47000-square-foot-least-at-185-wythe-avenue/
Oct. 10, 2013, 6:45 pm
Pietro from Brooklyn says:
No, the State should not just sell
the land. We need careful use of land
on the water, not some slapdash light and air blocking eyesore.
Oct. 11, 2013, 11 am
Dembuts from Greenpoint says:
"Brooklyn Flea co-owner Jonathan Butler said he has tried to be a good neighbor."

It's actually not that hard to be a good neighbor, you pretentious ——.
Nov. 17, 2013, 11:36 am
melinda ortiz from williamsburg says:
The brooklyn flea charges the non-food vendors $150/day and the food vendors pay more. With 10 vendors they cover the $1500 rent to the state. There was over 150 vendors there per day, do the math! Shame on you Brooklyn Flea Management. Greedy! I'm sure security, garbage and clean-up don't weigh heavily on the profit margin there!
Jan. 13, 2014, 9:39 pm

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