March 11, 2013

Food Truck ‘Roundups’ May Launch This Summer

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The Board of Public Works expressed enthusiasm at its meeting Monday for a proposal to allow food trucks to gather on public property around Ithaca.

Under current City of Ithaca policy, roundups –– gatherings of three to seven food trucks –– can only be located on private property, said Jes Seaver, a member of the Food Truck Association, which presented the proposal. The FTA aims to expand the trucks’ reach to public locations, including Thompson Park and Washington Park.

“Currently, if you set up your food truck [on public property], the police will come,” Seaver said. “There’s just no policy for it. That’s why the council is working on setting up a permit system.”

The Good Truck –– which specializes in homemade tortillas, pulled pork and tacos –– and the Circus Truck — which serves Italian and American cuisine –– will likely both be involved in the roundups, Seaver said. Crepe trucks and snowball trucks are also in the works, Seaver said, adding that many of the trucks prioritize using local ingredients.

“We would like to support these microbusinesses, and there seems to be an overwhelming response,” she said. “People seem very interested in this concept.”

Council members voiced their support for the roundups, which Seaver said she hopes will begin in early May.

“I think it makes a lot of sense” to have food trucks, Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 said during the meeting.

He agreed with Seaver that Thompson Park was an “ideal location” for the trucks because of the large amount of foot traffic and limited number of restaurants in the area.

Claudia Jenkins, vice chair of the board, raised concerns, however, about the potential dangers of the Thompson Park location.

“I’m not feeling that area at all,” she said. “I think down on Cayuga Street, you’re going to find no parking, and there are going to be traffic jams. To have it there, I think that’s going to be a dangerous area.”

Seaver emphasized her willingness to be flexible about the locations of the roundups, which will likely rotate from month to month. After seeing Common Council members’ reactions, she said, she is optimistic about the future of the project.

“This is all baby stages, but it seems like it’s really going to move forward,” she said.

Seaver first considered the idea of creating a mobile food permit for food trucks at a meeting in February. After the meeting, she said she wrote a policy proposal for a food truck roundup.

The Food Truck Association would provide garbage, recycling and compost receptacles and remove all waste produced by the trucks, according to the proposal. The proposal also states that each food truck should pay a 20 dollar fee for each vending event, as well as an additional fee for waste removal.

Though Seaver said she anticipates the trucks will become a popular attraction, she said that the association’s initial goal is just to “get it out there and try to make it happen.”

“In the summertime, Ithacans are looking for any and all outdoor activities, and these trucks are great addition to that,” Seaver said. “It’s a dining opportunity, but it’s also a recreation opportunity and a community-building opportunity.”

Original Author: Sarah Cutler