Christmas Tree Stand Controversy Apparently Resolved

If you’ve been following the local news or listening to the latest chat in the neighborhood, you’re probably aware of the controversy over a Christmas tree vendor doing business on the sidewalk in front of the now vacant space previously occupied by a Loft store. This Channel 4 video (there’s an ad at the beginning) includes an interview with Key Food Montague co-owner Ivan Arguello who, according to this Eagle story was troubled by the vendor’s display of “a ‘Temporary Certificate of Authority’ from the NYS Department of Finance and Taxation, issued to Key Food and dated 2020.” The Eagle quotes Mr. Arguello: “They put my name at risk. God forbid something happens. They have a gas generator.” There is another Christmas tree vendor physically located in front of Key Food, but it appears to be there with the store’s permission.

Channel 4 also interviewed Estela Johannessen, owner of James Weir Floral Company, on the same block of Montague. She complained that the vendors were selling wreaths and other small decorative items in competition with her store. According to the Eagle story, when Ms. Johannesssen asked the vendors not to sell these items, “they laughed in my face.” Finally, when Channel 4 interviewed Montague BID executive director Kate Chura, she said,

They are using somebody else’s address. Don’t have permission from the property owner [Midwood Investment and Development, owners of the building with the vacant former Loft space]. And they’re competing with other businesses, . . . [and] everyone would have a happier holiday if government agencies modernized the rules.

The Eagle story also quotes City Council Member Lincoln Restler, who had been alerted by Ms. Chura. Mr. Restler told the Eagle that he had “engaged with the Police Department’s vending unit” and with “the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP).” He added: “It’s a good thing to have access to Christmas trees, but we are concerned because the vendor is selling some of the same items that a beloved local storefront is selling.”

Apparently Mr. Restler’s efforts were effective. As of yesterday, as the photo above shows, all trees and other merchandise had been removed from the racks, and the vendors’ workspace was also gone.

Photo by Martha Foley for BHB.

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  • Frown of Passion

    Assisting the chronic homeless who live in and around the Clark St. Station is more deserving of Mr. Restler’s attention than the unpermitted sale of firs.

  • Jorale-man

    That’s a side effect to the vacant real storefronts on Montague I never would have foreseen.

    How does one become a rogue tree vendor anyway? They’re not exactly knock-off handbags or fake Rolexes.

  • CassieVonMontague

    He has sponsored two bills the past year regarding homeless services.

    He’s secured funding for jobs employing homeless and recently incarcerated.

    He’s a strong advocate for the “right to shelter” requirement in NYC

    He pushed for a budget that included lots of money for housing and shelters.

    He can do more than one thing at once. I’ve never known a more involved Council member in our district. There was a gas odor last week on Hicks St and Lincoln showed up to make sure no one was displaced. I bet if you and Haldeman and Hunt go talk to him about your homeless problem, he’ll try to do something.

  • FatFreddy’sCatheter

    With any number of netizens bearing an avatar of Nixon’s Sec. of State, but hiding behind handles like Frownie here, I sometimes do wonder, ponder, meander over yonder, who’s Kissinger now?

    (I’ll let myself out.)

  • FatFreddy’sCatheter

    P.S. Sometimes the outdoor vendors carry the Fancy/Light maple syrup you don’t find in grocery stores.

  • Andrew Porter

    When I walked by yesterday, all signs of their presence had been removed.

  • CassieVonMontague

    I get a 500ml bottle from Windswept Farms. I keep it in the fridge and it lasts me the whole year.

  • FatFreddy’sCatheter

    A pint per year seems right :)

  • FatFreddy’sCatheter

    How do you become a rogue tree vendor? You grab your lasso and long gun, saddle up your hoss, assemble the posse, and ride, ride after those rogue trees!

    Keep an eye out for pretty rogue lighting solutions.

  • nomcebo manzini

    Gotta ask – why does it take a City Councilman’s intervention to curb this – call it benign, if you like, but it certainly IS – lawlessness?!

    I’m sure whoever heads up and staffs “our precinct” live in Rockland County or some such, … but you’d think that the $billion or more NYC spends on “the force” would have them occasionally driving down the streets, maybe reading a newspaper with a view to seeing what’s on citizens’ minds, maybe taking a call from the BHA and following up on his/her issues, etc.

    Or maybe, this is just another City Agency whose primary purpose is to provide good livings (with benefits and – wait for it – overtime, these folks average $150K/year, y’know?!) to its employees.

    It rankles…. I’ve probably seen 100 bits of advice in these columns – dial 3-1-1…. Am I a “grinch” in wondering if that makes a whole lot of sense – in light of this?

    One hears that “They’ve got more important things to deal with.” I’m sure that’s true – the HAVING THOSE THINGS part. But ARE THEY dealing with any of those things? Is there still a stationhouse on Gold Street? And do they know that Brooklyn Heights is THEIR responsibility, even if it’s no hotbed of crime?

    “Community policing” was flavor of some year. Policing that is divorced from the needs & wants of a community must be the 2022 updated version. (Good thing a former cop now runs the City. Soon ALL CITY SERVICES – will join Sanitation and Policing in the “Oh yeah, we used to take those seriously. Now, not so much!” category.