After nearly 35 years on the Upper West Side, Crafts On Columbus may be nearing its end.
The bi-annual event draws 100+ artisans to the stretch of Columbus between West 77th & 81st Streets twice a year — three weekends in the spring and thee in the fall.
Community Board 7, which oversees the UWS, recently voted to boot the fair from the neighborhood.
DNAinfo has the story, including these quotes from residents who live nearby and apparently pushed for the decision:
“We are not against crafts. We are not against crafts people. We are simply standing up because we believe that we have had enough,” testified Steve Anderson, president of a neighborhood association, who said he and his neighbors have been inundated by foot traffic.
“We feel that there’s been an overcommercialization of the park. We have that wonderful flea market that already exists,” Robin Epstein, who lives nearby, said, adding that she supported the 79th Street Greenmarket which sets up every Sunday.
People who live in the immediate vicinity of the fair are entitled to their opinion, but this strikes me as an odd move motivated by a vocal minority.
We’re talking about an event that takes place 12 days a year on the east side of Columbus Avenue adjacent to the Museum of Natural History — where there are no residential (or commercial) buildings.
I find it difficult to understand how this creates a major disturbance to residents in the area, especially in light of the fact that there is a Greenmarket on that same stretch of Columbus every single Sunday of the year (i.e. 52 times annually).
When Craft On Columbus takes place, the Greenmarket moves to the GreenFlea market space in the schoolyard located on Columbus between 76th & 77th.
So really, we’re not even talking about 12 days a year — it’s more like six when you factor in that NYC Greenmarket would be taking up the sidewalk for six Sundays if COC wasn’t there.
For the record, I have no particular love affair with Crafts On Columbus. I’ve wandered through the stalls a few times and have never bought anything. However, judging from the number of people who visit each year, it seems like a popular event and it’s curious that CB7 would vote to eliminate it based on feedback from what seems like a very small group of people.
I’m not at all surprised that there are people who aren’t fans of the fair — just about every aspect of NYC life has at least some detractors (I’ve got a LONG list myself). However, I don’t understand why CB7 decided to flex its political muscles on what strikes me as a generally innocuous event.
COC isn’t officially finished just yet. Organizers still have permits through the first half of 2014 — their Spring 2013 fair is scheduled to take place in May. After that, its future is unclear.
The Parks Department is responsible for issuing permits for events like this. It’s my understanding that they have the final say on the matter, and the CB7 vote is more of a recommendation than a binding decision.
I’m curious to hear other people’s thoughts on this — feel free to agree or disagree in the comments section.
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