Navigating this conflict will be one of the first challenges for incoming parks commissioner Mitchell Silver, a former planning director for Raleigh, North Carolina, who was appointed by Mayor de Blasio in March. (Parks officials declined an interview for this article, noting in a statement that "we work hard to balance the interests of everyone who utilizes our public spaces.") It's doubly fraught, says Thomas, thanks to First Amendment issues: "If you're running Shea Stadium, you're allowed to say, 'We don't want you here,' but if you're coming to the parks department and you've fulfilled all of their requirements and they've still turned you down, then they've discriminated against you."

Burkan, at least, says he's now happy with the resolution that relocated the Flea. "I think it's great to have it just one day a weekend," he says. "There needs to be a balance." Demby is less thrilled, noting that the Flea's new North 11th Street space isn't guaranteed beyond this year, but seems resigned to more of these battles in the future.

Eric Demby/Brooklyn Flea

"The changes going on in Brooklyn are cataclysmic, basically," says Demby. "It brings up lots of issues, and one of these is going to be the use of public space."

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