The Jackson Heights community is fed up with a local supermarket’s “un-Fair” procedures.
Councilmember Daniel Dromm and neighborhood residents united on January 17 in front of Trade Fair, a supermarket located at 75-07 37th Avenue, to protest the grocer’s persistent violations of city laws and regulations.
“Trade Fair’s violations have created an unsafe environment for the Jackson Heights community and ruined the appearance of the neighborhood to the detriment of both residents and fellow business owners,” said Dromm. “We are demanding that Trade Fair do right by our neighborhood.”
Among the residents’ premier demands are for Trade Fair to cease in placing bins of broken glass near their recycling area, restore a tree pit in front of the market which they filled with cement, and comply with a partial vacate order for an enclosure obstructing the sidewalk on 75th Street.
In August of last year, Trade Fair was ordered to vacate from an illegal extension on the side of their property. When the grocer failed to follow the command, the Environment Control Board (ECB) issued a violation.
Jackson Heights community organizations echoed Dromm’s complaints – emphasizing the supermarket’s lack of respect for the neighborhood.
“Trade Fair supermarket is a serial sidewalk abuser,” said Edwin Westley, president of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group. “In each of their Jackson Heights locations on 37th Avenue, they have expanded their storage spaces by our sidewalk space. They are not good neighbors as demonstrated by their lack of respect for pedestrians. This is a clear violation and needs to be stopped now.”
Neighborhood residents admit that Trade Fair is a fine supermarket, but demand that the store’s selfish behavior cease if they are to continue to shop there.
“We have a great neighborhood here and most everyone works to make it better,” said Tom Lowenhaupt, a resident of 75th Street who attended the rally. “Trade Fair runs a good store but they can’t keep straight what’s theirs and what belongs to the public. They have a take, take, take policy when it comes to the areas adjacent to their stores. They constantly push the boundary and test what they can get away with. That’s not being neighborly. Ease off or face a boycott.”
Despite the community’s allegations, Victor Fuentes, the manager of Trade Fair, says the supermarket has done nothing wrong.
“[The owners] are currently in the process of getting a permit for the extension they are building,” Fuentes said. “It is a little on the sidewalk, but there is plenty of room to walk. There is no broken glass in the recycled area. As soon as we are aware of broken glass, we clean it up right away. The tree is in the unloading area, so when the trucks backed out they knocked the tree down. We called the city to replace it, but it kept getting knocked down. Eventually, the city stopped coming. And when it rains or snows, the water gets in the hole where the tree goes and it stinks. Residents complained about the smell, so we filled the hole with cement to stop the problem.”