|Front page cover of the newspaper L’Aurore of Thursday 13 January 1898, with the letter J’accuse...!, written by Émile Zola about the Dreyfus affair. The headline reads "I accuse! Letter to the President of the Republic". See J'accuse...!, the whole text on Wikisource. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
* An elaboration on the issue of Revenue Generated By the Market: Earlier this year the leader of the group that wants to run their own farmers market said at a public meeting that if he ran the market he would pay the City more for running the market at Splash Pad Park than AIM is currently paying. If any market manager paid more to use the site, that would be nice, but it is not just what a market management group pays the City to use the site that brings revenue into a city: It is what the market brings into a city (via sales taxes) as a result of the market’s activities that generates the bulk of the revenue from which the city benefits. AIM’s Grand Lake Farmers Market at Splash Pad Park generates a significant amount of revenue through non-food vendors (which incidentally members of this group have stated they would like to eliminate) and especially by the business generated by farmers market attendees shopping in the retail establishments on Grand and Lakeshore Avenues. Shopping in local stores and eating in local restaurants generates sales tax revenue for the City of Oakland. The man may pay more for use of the site, but if it is a lesser quality farmers market that replaces AIM’s market - and a drop off in quality is a likely bet no matter who might be chosen to replace AIM - then sales tax revenue will drop and the overall City income from the farmers market decreases.
* Grass: A few in the neighborhood blame the condition of the grass on the market managers (AIM). The fact is that this winter Oakland received about 50% more rain than in an average year, and that made sod, sod in the park and in anyone’s yard, a muddy mess when walked on. Grass can be re-grown. Other than the grass, in my opinion the plantings in the park (my first degree was in biology) could have been better laid out, and, I believe, a different selection of plants would have been more attractive. Originally the designer proposed Lombardy Poplars, but thankfully used other trees instead and at least the trees fare better than other plants in the park.
* Pavement discoloration: A few neighborhood activists are ‘upset’ by the fact that there is some staining of pavers and asphalt in Splash Pad Park as a result of farmers market vendors and farmers market attendees. I say, yes there is some staining, but considering that the park has been the site of a busy market for almost two decades, that is not surprising. Some staining would likely have occurred even if a market had not been on the site. Disneyland and Disney World both steam clean their walkways at the end of each day to keep walks pristine. Periodical steam cleaning of stained pathways and gathering spaces would make the park ‘cleaner’ and no one would object to that, but, this claim, it seems to me, is simply a way to try to find something wrong with our wonderful market, so that individuals can push out the current managers who over the years have done an outstanding job.
* Parking problems. The essence of this criticism is that the success of the market makes it difficult to find a parking place during market hours on Saturday and that AIM should do something about it. How to go about unpacking this complaint? When my husband and I go to market, usually it takes five to ten minutes to find a parking place. But we always find a parking place. If we did not love the market so much, we would go home – or never venture forth in the first place. A handful of local residents seem to want a small-scale, mildly repulsive farmers market to which they can go without the rude jangle of rubbing elbows with the masses. This, of course, is a recipe for soon there being no farmers market at all. When my husband and I moved to the neighborhood in 1991, Lakeshore Avenue had so little foot traffic we wondered what was wrong with the neighborhood. Today we relish those moments when the street is most busy, when it is alive. What seems an inconvenience to others seems to us a welcome sign of neighborhood health. The benefits of the market far outweigh any problems with parking. As Oakland A’s season ticket holders, my husband and I have gone to many games in recent years where parking is easy, and we have had half a row to ourselves to watch our beloved, beautiful, bumbling A’s. Guess why that is so. Is that what you want for our farmers market?
NOTE: One aspect of the new lease with AIM addresses parking. It is my understanding that parking will again be available at Lake Park School site.