|The Lookout Letter to the editor|
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June 2, 2021
My store, JADIS, has occupied the corner of Main and Hill for 45 years. Contrary to what has been reported, the experimental weekend closure proposed for sections of Main Street is NOT supported by all Merchants.
In fact, a group of us questions the timing of this experiment, its merits, and the value of up-ending existing systems for the benefit of a few ("City Council Moves Forward With Main Street Closures," April 29, 2021).
Countywide limits are about to be lifted, and bars and restaurants can revert to pre-pandemic indoor capacity PLUS their bonus, outdoor seating. We, Merchants, have forfeited valuable on-street parking and drive-by visibility to help our bars and restaurants survive.
Fortunately, retail business has been steadily improving with every weekend as customers venture out and people begin to travel again.
So the question remains, “Why now?”
Proponents claim that more people will bring more business.
As a long term retailer, I can tell you that this is a false narrative. Most events (Summer Solstice, Cyclovia, Holiday) are labor-intensive, requiring extra staff, and are largely participated by retailers out of neighborliness and good will. They rarely, if ever, result in productive sales and primarily benefit food and drink establishments.
Our group has yet to receive a satisfactory answer to the question of how emergency vehicles will navigate the road closure. Main Street is a thoroughfare and at least 4 to 6 times per weekend, there are fire trucks and ambulances racing south on Main Street. If the street is closed, an emergency mid-block would be a disaster.
And what about moving the bus stops? Both the Big Blue Bus and the MTA service our street. How arrogant to ask elderly patrons to walk an extra block or two!
Our loyal customers who live near Main Street are legitimately concerned that their neighborhoods will become grid-locked as confused visitors navigate the side streets either to park, or exit the area.
Why are we about to EXPERIMENT with something that will impact and upset our community? We have all come through a horrific year. We should be supporting, not alienating, each other and causing more stress.
Finally, we feel this is an ill-conceived and bizarre idea for this moment.
Moreover, we, the Merchants, are not eager to play co-hosts to an “Oktoberfest” every weekend which is fraught with problems to benefit a few.
Susan E. Lieberman, owner
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