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Hilton hotel continues to negotiate storage dispute with Haymarket Pushcart Association

A fruit stand at Haymarket. SEAN YOUNG/DFP STAFF

The Haymarket Pushcart Association, an organization of produce vendors outside the historic outdoor market located in downtown Boston, are in discussions with Hilton-brand hotel Canopy regarding the vendors’ storage space. 

The recently built hotel took up some of Haymarket’s storage space, said Otto Gallotto, president of the Haymarket Pushcart Association. As compensation, the hotel provided the market with new tents and an additional 1,615 square feet of indoor storage, according to a Boston Planning and Development Agency document.

However, the tents took up most of the 1,615 square feet of space, which left forklifts, pallets, and tables outside the tents, said Gallotto.

“Once we put the tents in, we realized that [with] all these other stuff we used to build the stands with, we don’t have room for that,” said Mike Crews, a pushcart worker at Haymarket. “Without it, we can’t do business.”

Canopy Hotel’s attorney sent a notice of default to the Haymarket Pushcart Association on Aug. 23, which noted the improper placement of pallets on the sidewalk, wrote Gallotto.

Gallotto said there was “an initial shock” by the hotel’s extreme move to the law firm.

“The neighborly thing would have been to just come out and talk to us and say, ‘Hey we have to do something about those pallets out there,’” Gallotto said.

Cristina Gallotto, Gallotto’s daughter, started an online petition asking the community to help protect the market’s storage space on Aug. 26, which has collected 1,032 signatures.

Representatives from the Haymarket Pushcart Association and managers of Canopy by Hilton Boston Downtown met on Sept. 15.

“It’s all positive feedback that I got from this meeting that we had,” Gallotto said. He added the hotel is willing to help add new tables and get pallets off the sidewalk. 

Hilton did not respond to requests for comment.

“There’s never been a situation where we would ever move,” Gallotto said. “The one thing is at the end of the month, we still don’t have a place to put all our storage, and what they didn’t appreciate was that we were putting it there Saturday night through Thursday.”

Peter Drummey, chief historian and Stephen T. Riley Librarian at the Massachusetts Historical Society, said the romantic scene of an outdoor market draws in tourists and locals alike.

“(Haymarket) has that vital connection with people going shopping essentially together, across class and economic and ethnic and racial lines,” Drummey said. “The people who run the stalls and buy the food, represent the changes in Boston in ethnicity and then the makeup of the city.”

The 400-year-old history of Haymarket predates the establishment of the Haymarket Pushcart Association, Drummey said.

Today’s Haymarket has endured many threats to its existence, including being pushed underneath an elevated highway, and later having to deal with Boston’s Big Dig in the early 2000s, Drummey said. 

“Haymarket today is not where Haymarket Square was,” he said. “I think an outdoor market survives in that way. It’s displaced rather than being removed.”

Ledyn Jaimes, who was shopping at Haymarket, said although she lives far away, she enjoys the market because of the affordable prices.

“If I had time to come over here every Saturday, I should be here every Saturday,” she said. 

The Pushcart Association and the Canopy Hotel are set to meet at the end of the month to resolve the storage issue and possibly eliminate wooden pallets entirely, Gallotto said.

“I’m hoping they can work it out,” Gayle Schumacher, a resident from Dover, said. 

“Because it [Haymarket] is a treasure to our city.” 

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