Letter: Maxwell Market remains in jeopardy
January 6, 2017

Dear Editor:

Patrick Butler did a good job in the Dec. 3, 2016, article to dispel the rumor that the City would be closing the New Maxwell St. Market through a direct order. But the Market is still at extreme risk unless immediate intervention is taken.

Through bad management, the City has let the number of vendors continually shrink. There is no outreach to replace vendors who have left; nor an effort to try to address the reasons why vendors leave.

Most people in Chicago do not even know the City’s official public market (operating since 1912) even exists. This has been exacerbated by the City moving the market a block back from its previous visible location on Roosevelt Road.

Below are my suggestions to the City to bring economic vitality back to the Market. I offer the aid of the Maxwell Street Foundation and interns from various colleges such as DePaul, Chicago State, and Roosevelt to help the City do this. Famous photographer Marc PoKempner and members of the Maxwell St. Market Vendors Association are also interested in helping.

(1) During the winter months of January to March 2017, reduce vendor fees to zero.

(2) Move the Market south, back to its main entrance on Roosevelt Road and Desplaines and place a visible banner spanning the width of Roosevelt Road to mark the entrance to the market.

(3) Outreach to the parishioners of two neighborhood megachurches, St. Francis of Assisi and New Life Covenant, to become vendors. Encourage these churches to be stakeholders in the market.

(4) Design and place advertising placards in all the hotels in Chicago.

(5) Look for an indoor warming center is the nearby warehouses and government buildings for the months of January to March.

(6) Some of the above require no money outlay at all. For those that do, the City should seek grant funding or corporate sponsors to help pay for it. The time for committee meetings has past. The City, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Commissioner Mark Kelly need to act now!

Steve Balkin, Professor Emeritus, Roosevelt University Member of the Board of
Directors of the Maxwell Street Foundation