Gregg Walker is a Harlem Resident and 1997 graduate of Yale Law School who worked as an investment banker for 9 years and was the Vice President of Strategy and Mergers & Acquisitions at Viacom for 3 years. Gregg served as the Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at Sony from 2009 to 2016, and he launched his own private investing firm in July 2016 (www.gawalker.co). Gregg was chosen in 2010 by Crain's as one of NYC's 40 Under 40 Rising Stars (http://mycrains.crainsnewyork.com/40under40/profiles/2010/gregg-walker). Gregg is a Deacon at Abyssinian Baptist Church and served as the chairman of the Board of the Harlem YMCA. He has served on the Boards of movie studio MGM and music publishing companies Sony/ATV and EMI Music Publishing. He is also a Board member of Harlem RBI and Derek Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation. He is a former Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a representative of the US at the 2002 Young Leaders Conference of the American Council on Germany. Gregg is also a member of many other foundations and community organizations.
Stringer's Food Fight Continues as the Space Shuttle Lands in Manhattan
Last week, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer issued a report regarding the NYC government's barriers to the expansion of farmer's markets, and his proposed solutions deserve immediate attention. Also, Manhattan's Intrepid Museum was awarded a Space Shuttle in a highly competitive battle with museums around the country.
1) Red Tape: The permitting process for markets is decentralized, inconsistent, confusing and expensive. In some cases, a market starting in July would have to apply for permits a full seven months in advance.
2) High Cost of Entry: Permit fees are based on the number of days a market will operate for an entire season. The cost of the entire season must be paid upfront, with a single permit often exceeding $800. When combined with required insurance coverage, a market operator, in many cases, must pay over $1,300 before the market season begins in order to obtain a permit. This can be a heavy financial toll for small market operators with limited resources for whom running markets is often not their primary job.
3) Lack of Operational Procedures for Parking: Because traveling to the city for market days is expensive for farmers, free parking is critical to the success of a market. However, the Department of Transportation has no official operating procedure for requesting signage or issuing placards to reserve parking on market days. Some markets reported waiting years to receive reserved parking signage.
Stringer proposed the following six solutions:
1. Eliminate Daily Permit Fees for Markets in Low-Income Areas
2. Simplify and Clarify the Process
• Assign oversight of farmers markets to a single City entity
• Create a uniform application process
• Create a guide to operating a farmers market
3. Create Standard Procedures for Farmers Market Parking
• Department of Transportation must create a clear policy for requesting signage
• Appropriate agencies must develop farmers market parking placards
• NYPD traffic officers must be trained regarding enforcement for farmers market parking
4. Create Information and Outreach Campaign About Using Federal and State Nutrition Supports at Farmers Markets
5. Increase Access to Urban Land for Farming
• Assess land availability and suitability for urban agriculture
• Create a citywide urban agriculture program
• Ensure the permanence of community gardens
6. Increase Access to Commercial Kitchen Space
• Explore use of City-owned kitchens
• Create online portal of available kitchen space
To eliminate food deserts and improve the health of the people of New York City, we all need to follow the lead of the Manhattan Borough President and advocate for less red tape and barriers to success for farmer's markets. The fresh fruits and vegetables that are found at farmer's markets are the solution to the problems of poor nutrition and obesity in our communities.
We asked more than a year ago for your support for this effort, and the effort was successful. Senators Gillibrand and Schumer as well as the rest of the elected officials from in and around NYC and New York State deserve enormous credit for their determination and for their willingness to cooperate on this issue.
While some individuals have criticized this achievement because the Space Shuttle selected for Manhattan never flew in space, we should be pleased. There were only four Space shuttles available to be provided to museums around the country. Houston, the headquarters of space flight in our country, was not awarded a Shuttle. Manhattan's Shuttle, Enterprise, flew test flights but never escaped our planet's atmosphere to fly in space. It has all of the same elements of any of the Space Shuttles that have been in space, and it will be an inspiration to the youth of our city to aim high and pursue careers in science and technology. Enterprise was the first Space Shuttle ever built and gave birth to all of the others.
Enterprise will create significant economic opportunity in New York City, bringing new visitors to our city and drawing nearby residents back to the Intrepid Museum.
As New Yorkers, we should be excited to obtain any Space Shuttle and share it with all who visit our great city.