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The Issue: Will a lone commuter bring down the Penn Quarter Farmers’ Market? The market has called the north end of Eighth Street NW, between D and E Streets, home for the last seven years, operating a few hours every Thursday. Ken Crerar wants that to change. According to the DC Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA), Crerar recently contacted the Department of Transportation to suggest the market’s permit be revoked. Crerar, who is president of the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, says the route he is forced to take around the market adds 15 minutes to his commute. Is he speaking for the silent majority of disgruntled drivers—or should the market stay put?
Time Over Produce: The argument that farmers markets cause traffic problems—specifically, Crerar says the congestion on Seventh and Ninth Streets slows down his connection to E Street—is not new. In September, the White House Farmers Market underwent similar controversy for closing part of Vermont Avenue. Jamie, writing at Prince of Petworth, says, “If this guy is really having 15 minutes added to his commute once a week, it is reasonable to assume that hundreds, if not thousands of other people are similarly affected.” Crerar has proposed an alternative site: the south side of the Smithsonian galleries on F Street.
Leave the Produce Alone: But Crerar doesn’t seem to be garnering much vocal support from his fellow commuters: An online commenter on DNA says, “I follow the same route…it would be an overstatement to say that having 8th street closed adds five minutes to my trip.” And Pat Lute, a spokesman for Freshfarm Markets, told City Desk: “The feedback the farmers market has received has been overwhelmingly positive, it’s been called a jewel of the neighborhood. …We are very hopeful that everything is going to work out.” The DNA dismisses the Smithsonian gallery alternative, saying F street is too busy and must remain clear for access to the museums.
Next Step: According to Lute, the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6C passed a resolution Friday in support of the market. The transportation department’s Public Space Committee will also presumably discuss the issue at its Oct. 22. meeting.
Photo by Alicia Griffin, Creative Commons Attribution License