Brace yourselves, Latin-food lovers: The Red Hook ball fields, home to the city’s most beloved cluster of food vendors, may be closing for good in September. The city, eager as ever for the fat stacks that only a bidding war by commercial concessions can offer, has given the vendors notice that their Temporary Use Agreement, the permit given to them by the Department of Parks and Recreation, won’t be renewed. The city wants to open the parks up for concession bids, which will almost certainly mean an end to the makeshift food stalls that have been operating there for over ten years.
“They told us that the last day we can operate in the park is September 8,” Cesar Fuentes, the executive director of the Food Vendors Committee of Red Hook Park, Inc. “The only person that can extend our permit beyond this season is the Commissioner of Parks.” Fuentes says that the only hope the park has is for New Yorkers to write the commissioner and to testify on behalf of the vendors as a cultural institution. “People need to say that the vendors bring something of value to the community, to Red Hook and Brooklyn … [because] we can’t compete with multi-million-dollar corporations.” Currently, Fuentes is asking the city to extend the permit at least for twelve more operating days, or until the usual closing, in October. Will 2007 go down as an annus horribilis for New York, an economic apocalypse that swallowed up the ball fields, Astroland, and possibly even Katz’s, all in the same year? Given that the ball fields, unlike the other two, are public property, at least one New York food institution stands a fighting chance.
Related: Mmmm, the Red Hook Ball Fields [Grub Street]