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Madison Square Market too Ugly to Live, Committee Says

By DNAinfo Staff on January 4, 2011 3:58pm  | Updated on January 5, 2011 6:45am

The annual Madison Square Market has earned mixed reviews from community members.
The annual Madison Square Market has earned mixed reviews from community members.
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By Jill Colvin

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MIDTOWN — A committee of Midtown's Community Board 5 voted to shutter the popular "Mad. Sq. Mark't" Monday night, citing cramped sidewalks and ugly displays.

The third annual market event had been set to return to the Flatiron District's Madison Square Park from Sept. 24 through Oct. 22.

Last year, the market earned praise from local bloggers thanks to its foodie-friendly offerings from eateries including Resto, Almond, Ilili, Brooklyn's Roberta's pizzeria and Fatty 'Cue.

The fair also featured clothing, jewelry, pottery, candles, handbags, and other home furnishings and gifts.

But members of Board 5’s Parks Committee voted unanimously to deny the request for an encore, with complaints that the market blocks local residents' access to sidewalks and lasts much too long.

Some criticized the look of the vending booths and the quality of merchandise on display. Others said it creates a wall that makes it harder to access the park.

"To me it just looked like another street fair," board member Tom Miller said.

The event now goes to the full board for a vote.

When organizers came before the committee last year, members urged them to consider shortening the duration to less than a month to make it less of a hassle for locals. They also asked for more local merchants to make the event more of a draw.

Community Board 5 has had long-standing concerns about the size and frequency of events in the park, and requires the Madison Square Park Conservancy, which co-produces the event, to provide members with a comprehensive list of events it plans to sponsor in January each year.

Before the vote, Tom Reidy, the director of park operations for the Conservancy, disagreed with the committee, telling them he thought last year's event had been a success.

"We were really happy with it this year. We got a lot of really positive feedback," Reidy said.

Online reviewers agreed.

"They have an excellent set of food vendors and the crafts vendors are pretty good too," wrote one fan on the online review site Yelp. "I'm seeing more things that I'd actually buy rather than the usual 'um, is that mass produced in China?' stuff."

Another user called the market a "refuge in a concrete city."

The event typically generates $150,000 for the Conservancy, Reidy said.

Mike Rucker, director communications at the Conservancy, said it is too early to say how the vote might impact its decision to stage the event.

Earlier in the meeting, the committee voted to approve a host of other events in the square sponsored by the group, including an annual broadcast of the US Open matches in September and a viewing of the Mets/Yankees games on a large screen on the weekends of May 20 and July 1.

The full board will vote on the proposals at its monthly meeting on Thursday, Jan. 13.