April 11, 2013 By Christian Murray
Community Board 2 and members of the Sunnyside community were caught off guard yesterday when they discovered that the street fair on Skillman Avenue is now on.
Several merchants on Skillman Avenue received fliers yesterday distributed by the event coordinator notifying them that the fair is scheduled for Saturday, April 20. The flier asked them whether they wanted to participate in the festival, held between 43rd and 48th Streets.
The event is being held by the Sunnyside Kiwanis Club and is being run by Clearview Festival Productions.
The fliers caught the business owners by surprise, since Community Board 2 advised the city to deny the permit after an outcry from residents and the public. A litany of business owners and nearby residents have expressed their dislike of the fair—citing noise, smells, parking problems and litter.
Gerald Lederman, the treasurer of the Sunnyside Kiwanis Club, confirmed that the fair is on and said that Community Board 2’s decision was appealed to New York City’s Street Activities Permit Office. The permit office overturned Community Board 2’s decision.
Members of the community board, however, said that they were caught by surprise.
Joe Conley, chairman of Community Board 2, said in an e-mail that he was not notified of the appeal. Furthermore, he said the city’s permit office did not reach out to community board to gets its feedback prior to overturning its decision.
Conley said he is following up with the city’s permit office for an explanation.
But Lederman disagrees with Conley’s account. He said that he told Conley about the appeal at the Sunnyside Shines (BID) annual meeting held on March 21—and that the Kiwanis Club has been very transparent about it.
Several community members are calling for the fair to be stopped. Dorothy Morehead, a local realtor and Community Board 2 member, said “the noise and smells are intolerable” and her “potential clients… are unable to park.”
Her views were echoed by many other merchants, who did not want to be named.
Lederman, however, argues that that the fair is important to the organization—since a significant portion of the festival’s profits go to the Kiwanis.
The Kiwanis, he said, uses the fund to help underprivileged children and other needs that all go back to the community.
“I understand there is disruption, but it is not exactly constant,” he said. “There are only two fairs a year on Skillman…it’s not like being next to a construction site.”
Lederman said that the group’s appeal was based on two central arguments. The first was that the profits were going to a charitable organization—and second, that it had tried to accommodate the community board’s wishes in the past, when it moved its festival from Greenpoint Ave (where it had been for 20 years) to Skillman Avenue.