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Brooklyn Flea Leaving Williamsburg Waterfront Park Amid Complaints

By Meredith Hoffman | December 10, 2013 1:13pm
 The Brooklyn Flea will no longer be held at East River State Park, after months of neighbors' complaints about the flea at the park.
The Brooklyn Flea will no longer be held at East River State Park, after months of neighbors' complaints about the flea at the park.
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Brooklyn Flea

WILLIAMSBURG — Call it the Brooklyn Flee.

The Brooklyn Flea's vintage dresses, handmade jewelry, records and trinkets that filled the Williamsburg waterfront each week last summer won't be returning this year — after locals complained that the popular outdoor market was robbing them of precious park space.

The flea brought dozens of vendors and hundreds of shoppers each Sunday to East River State Park, but organizers agreed to stop holding their market on the land this year to accommodate residents, founder Eric Demby said.

However, the popular food market Smorgasburg, also run by Brooklyn Flea, will continue to set up shop there on Saturdays, he noted.

"The success of our markets in East River State Park this season exceeded everyone's expectations, including our own, and understandably took some people in the neighborhood by surprise," Demby said. "And while the large majority of area residents continued to be supportive of our two-day residency, we decided that it made sense to compromise with some of the voices urging moderation in a move that we hope will secure the long-term future of Smorgasburg in the park on Saturdays."

The flea is now actively seeking a new summer home, Demby said, noting that its winter location would be open through March at 80 N. Fifth St., a block from the park.

The flea moved its Fort Greene site to the indoor Williamsburg location for the winter, and sprouted another in Park Slope in October that is expected to reopen next spring.

For North Brooklyn residents who passionately fought the flea, the news came as a welcome resolution that would restore the parkland to its intended use.

"I think it's a great compromise for 2014," said longtime flea opponent and local resident Jonathan Burkan. "No one ever thought you were going to have a commercial activity take over this park both days every weekend. It just was too much."

A representative from the state Department of Parks and Recreation also told residents that the park would not host large-scale commercial activities on Sundays, Burkan said he learned at Community Board 1 land use committee meeting this week.

A spokesman for the agency declined to comment on the flea or the park.