|The Lookout Letter to the editor|
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June 3, 2021
Main Street Merchants have been lobbying the City Council for over a year to close Main Street to all traffic on weekends ("City Council Moves Forward With Main Street Closures," April 29, 2021).
They wrote a letter to the City Council last December 21st, claiming: “This pilot program has widespread approval from businesses and Ocean Park residents.”
Since when do lobbyists for Main Street Businesses speak on behalf of Ocean Park Residents? Their next strategy was to partner with Ocean Park Association (OPA) to create polls to support their claim. Talk about putting the cart before the horse.
OPA polled it’s 400 members. Fewer than 100 responded to the poll -- 49 were in favor of a main street closure on weekends, 20 were against the closure, for a net total of 29 people in favor (in a community of approximately 10,000 to 13,000 residents).
I am a member of OPA and sat in on the Zoom meeting wherein this information was disclosed. Nevertheless, OPA wrote a letter to the Council stating “vast majorities” of residents are in favor of closing Main Street.
OPA used to be a neighborhood association, advocating for residents. Take a quick look at the MSBIA website homepage, it clearly demonstrates how they have been taken over by the Merchant’s Association. https://www.mainstreetsm.com
There are no super majorities in favor of Closing Main Street. Most retailers are against it, their businesses rely on drive by traffic and street parking to succeed –- I can speak to this issue, I have an office on Main Street.
The worst of the pandemic is over, indoor dining will be back to 100 percent capacity by June 15, bars and restaurants already have expanded outdoor seating capacity with the Al Fresco Dining program.
Residents have been fighting to REDUCE traffic for years. We don’t want more cars, buses, emergency vehicles diverted through the neighborhood, we don’t want less parking, less safe living conditions and Main Street to devolve into a weekend bar crawl that families have to avoid.
The proposed pilot program being considered at the June 8th City Council meeting puts the PROFITS of a few businesses over the many PEOPLE who live in Ocean Park, and it’s all premised on a deliberate misinformation campaign -- that residents are in favor of it, we are not.
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