City Council approves seasonal Main Street block closure, events

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Winters City Council was presented with Resolution 2022-18 to consider closing traffic on the western half of Main Street from Railroad Avenue to the mid-block crosswalk at the March 1 meeting.

As a temporary solution to support restaurant dining during the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020 City Council approved closing one-half of westbound Main Street from Railroad Avenue to vehicles on Friday afternoons until Monday mornings.

In Nov. 2021, council made the decision to open Main Street to vehicle traffic seven days a week during the winter months.

On Feb. 2, the Downtown Business Association (DBA) sent a letter to the City Council proposing an annual street closure schedule and requested approval to promote two special events: a spring-themed event on March 25 as a season kick-off and an Oct. 31 fall/harvest festival closing event.

City Manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa first introduced the item for council to consider seasonally closing the same half-block of Main Street from Friday afternoons through Monday mornings beginning on Friday, March 25 and ending on Monday, Oct. 31.

Secondly, the DBA asked for approval to program special activities for the first and last weekends of the closures and to extend the Main Street closure to First Street for these special events. Trepa advised that the DBA had submitted an event application to be brought to council at the March 15 meeting.

Both the City and DBA agreed that developing an event schedule during the street closure would draw people to the downtown area.

Overall, council members liked the DBA’s proposal but raised concerns about traffic circulation, safety, attendance, parking, community and neighborhood feedback, cleaning of tables and trash, avoiding competition with city-sponsored events and how they would measure success.

Councilmember Pierre Neu wanted feedback from all downtown businesses, not just DBA member businesses.

Dillan Rivas of Bella Boutique expressed concern for parking and elderly access to the pharmacy and retail shops adding that use of the pergolas has dropped since restaurants opened for inside dining. Outdoor tables, he complained, are frequently left dirty and are an eyesore.

Rivas expressed concern that the DBA proposal had not been presented to him and at least five of his downtown business neighbors. Trepa assured Rivas that staff would conduct business outreach.

Public members expressed concern that the street closure eliminates designated handicapped parking spaces.

Chris Turkovich, DBA President clarified that the, DBA didn’t intend to compete with large city events like Youth Day. If approved, he said it would evaluate usage and attendance to gauge their programs.

Corinne Martinez, DBA board member, thought the street closure worked out well last year. The DBA, she said, is looking to create a window for historic Main Street with street closure being a big part of it while offering events, Friday live music and Saturday open mic.

Neu brought up premature social media advertisements that fast-tracked some DBA events despite that they had not been approved. Turkovich agreed there was a “clumsy rollout” and assured the council it wouldn’t happen again while Martinez explained they “got the work out ahead of the game.”

The item was approved with the requirement that it returns to the council in mid-July and then again after Oct. 31 for evaluation.

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