Thursday, November 11, 2010

Vendors Nervous Over Fate of Aqueuct Flea Market

By Eric Yun

The long-term fate of the flea market currently based at Aqueduct Racetrack has become a hot topic, with vendors arguing the influx of jobs the Ozone Park community will receive does not mean others should be loosing their livelihood.

Genting New York is preparing to build a racino called Resorts World New York at Aqueduct Racetrack. The project is expected to create approximately 1,300 temporary construction jobs and 800 permanent casino jobs.

But the new development could put thousands of jobs at risk. The flea market at Aqueduct operates three times a week and hosts more than 1,000 vendors.

Genting officials have said that the flea market will continue through December, at which point they will evaluate all their options.

At last month’s Community Board 10 meeting, flea market vendors spoke about their tenuous hold on their jobs. The vendors asked CB 10 for some help. Darrel Sukhdeo, representing the Association of Vendors, asked if the board could help facilitate a meeting with Genting and New York Racing Association (NYRA) officials. The vendors want to find some coexistence and remain at Aqueduct.

Vendor Yvonne Kissoon has worked at the flea market for 24 years. “The neighborhood depends on us as much as we depend on them,” she told the crowd at the board meeting. The cheap products offered at the market are essential for lower income residents and a great deal for everybody, said Kissoon.

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall has said that she would attempt to help the flea market if they can’t stay at Aqueduct.

At the meeting, Betty Braton, chairwoman of CB 10, said the issue is a very complex situation involving leases with NYRA and Plain and Fancy, which operates the market. She said Genting and other local politicians are aware of the situation, and they will continue to work to find some solution.

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