When we first heard about the Red Hook Ballfield vendors were in danger of losing their hold on the space by Red Hook Park’s soccer fields, we sent an impassioned email to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. Yesterday, we received the form email below, which is perhaps best described as a canned response.
Benepe stresses that the bidding process will not be all about money, and we want to believe it could simply be a formality… but we’ll have to see. The commissioner says they will take into consideration “qualitative criteria” like operating experience. We say, the most delicious food wins. But that’s just us.
Dear Ms. Lalli:
Thank you for your email regarding the food vendors at Red Hook Park in Brooklyn.
The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation has been issuing “Temporary Use Authorizations” to two separate groups to operate a food market at the ballfields in Red Hook Park. We began the process a few years ago in an effort to legalize the vendors at Red Hook, helping them become a permanent fixture in the neighborhood, and the park users have benefited from their presence. They enhance and diversify the Red Hook neighborhood, and particularly our ballfields, by serving great food at reasonable prices. Unfortunately, once it became clear that the Red Hook markets would regularly be open for more than 29 days a year, we could no longer legally renew their temporary permits without opening up the concession to the public solicitation process.
I would, however, like to correct a common misperception that we are offering the site to the “highest bidder.” In order to comply with the concession regulations in the New York City Charter, we will issue a Request for Proposals (RFP). This will allow Parks to evaluate proposals based on qualitative criteria such as operating experience and planned operations. We plan on releasing a RFP shortly for the operation of vending markets at the various ballfields at Red Hook Park; the term of the license will be six years. This process will give the selected vendors the permanence and regularity that they deserve.
We have received positive feedback regarding the Red Hook vending markets and we look forward to the active participation of the existing vending groups at Red Hook in the proposal process.
I appreciate your taking the time to write.
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