By Timothy Sandoval
Community Board 7 voted this week to downsize Crafts on Columbus from six weekends a year to three weekends, ending the fall session of the crafts fair.
The resolution represents a compromise between those who wanted to preserve the annual fairs that have been held on Columbus Avenue for 34 years and those who wanted to end them altogether.
Board member Klari Neuwelt, who chairs the board’s Parks and Environment Committee, said the compromise would allow for the craft fairs to be held on three weekends in spring. Previously, the craft fairs had been held six times a year, typically in May and October. The resolution, which was passed by a large majority of members at the Community Board 7 meeting Monday night, would end the craft fairs in the fall.
Neuwelt said the compromise proposal was developed after discussions took place between block associations, concerned residents, those who run a local flea market, and the organizer of the craft fairs.
“I am thrilled to be able to present what appears to be an excellent compromise on this issue,” Neuwelt said.
Neuwelt said she supported the compromise because Lincoln Center holds similar annual craft fairs in the fall and the organizer of the fairs stated that the events were more financially successful in the spring. Neuwelt also noted only about 15 of the roughly 300 exhibitors that come each weekend for the Columbus Avenue craft fairs are local.
In December 2012, the board recommended that the Department of Parks and Recreation not issue a new permit for the fairs. Block associations opposed the fairs, complaining about the foot traffic the fairs bring and noting that they displaced a local greenmarket. But a recent uproar about that decision forced the Transportation Committee to reconsider the matter.
Neuwelt said a group would be created to discuss where to best relocate the greenmarket when the craft fairs are operating in the spring.
Some residents who spoke about the issue espoused support for the fairs and were glad that a compromise had been reached. However, not all were pleased by the compromise.
One resident said cutting the number of craft fairs would hurt local artists’ revenue and was skeptical of the impact of the fairs on local businesses and the problems caused by crowds.
“This motion does not really make a lot of sense and should be considered a nonstarter,” the resident said.
A substitute resolution to hold two fairs in the spring and two in the fall failed before members passed the resolution supporting three craft fairs in the spring.