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Booted Columbus Ave. Crafts Fair Could Return Following Outcry

By Emily Frost | May 8, 2014 8:50am
 Craftspeople from the fair argued it was essential to their livelihood. 
Crafts on Columbus to Be Reconsidered by Community Board 7
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UPPER WEST SIDE — The local community board voted to reconsider the closure of the 34-year-old Crafts on Columbus street fair, after a slew of angry craftspeople argued it was crucial to their livelihood and hypocritical of the board to boot them. 

"You don’t get more mom and pop than us," artist and fair participant Bernard Zallon told Community Board 7 on Tuesday night, reminding the board that it has claimed it supports small independent businesses. 

Two years ago, the board rejected the fair's request to renew its six-weekends-a-year permit with the Parks Department, which heeded the board's decision. Last week, residents rallied in support of the fair, encouraging proponents to sign a petition that had garnered more than 1,750 signatures as of Thursday morning.

In response, the board agreed to reconsider its decision at an upcoming parks committee meeting either in May or June. The board said it would announce the date of the meeting on its website.

Opponents of the fair said it brought too much traffic to an already-dense area along Columbus Avenue, near the American Museum of Natural History. 

But as the final day of the fair approaches on May 11, the backlash against the board's decision to close Crafts on Columbus has been vociferous. 

"Many artists depend on their income from this show. Please put yourself in an artist’s position...It’s like you’re killing us," pleaded artist David Shapiro. 

Jeweler Julie Rosen-Lopez said selling at the fair pays for her bills and her health insurance.

"The show has really helped me," she said. "It’s made me an established craftsperson."

City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal said she supports the fair and asked that the board reconsider its decision. 

"If CB7 does decide to revisit the issue and vote in favor of the market's return, we would consider issuing a new RFP," said Parks Department spokesman Philip Abramson. "However, we cannot speculate on specifics at this time."