Street closure requests in downtown McMinnville continue to stir discussions among city officials on how best to handle those that might negatively affect businesses.
“We’ve got to come up with a better way to handle these requests,” said Mayor Ben Newman during the last meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. “What we’re doing is not the best. We’re not hearing everybody’s concerns about it.”
The comment was made when board members considered a written request from the Children’s Advocacy Center for use of the grassy lot Sept. 26 for its annual community gala and fundraiser. The appeal also asked for the closure of the south side of Court Square from 3 to 10 p.m.
The gala is not considered one that will have a negative effect on businesses due to its limited street closure, but it brought up a recurring discussion on those that do.
“This one will keep Main Street open, but we need to start figuring out a better way to do these closures,” said Newman.
“I think we need to have an application process with more information and probably some type of notice that goes out to the landowners on Main Street. I’ve been getting complaints, mainly from one person. That person says they speak for several different people. I’ve spoken to some people who say, ‘Sometimes we like them and sometimes we don’t.’ I said, ‘I can’t keep up with the ones you like and the ones you don’t like.’ We’ve got to have a better system,” Newman added.
Newman suggested setting parameters: how often Main Street will be closed, setting times when the street can be closed, advanced notification from event organizers, and how best to contact downtown businesses for their input.
“There are some businesses that benefit, some businesses that don’t benefit at all, and some businesses that maybe hurt because of it,” said Newman. “We’ve got, generally, those three categories of businesses.”
Alderman Mike Neal added a fourth category, “The general motoring public that gets inconvenienced. My thinking is that if it is not a city-sponsored event, we don’t need to close the road.”
Neal drew support from Alderman Ryle Chastain.
“I agree with Mike,” said Chastain. “Outside the Fourth of July, the Christmas parade, and Autumn Street Fair, I don’t see a need for us to close down Main Street all the time.”
Members unanimously approved the request from Children’s Advocacy Center and recommended a joint meeting of the city’s Streets and Sanitation Committee and Parks and Recreation Committee to consider establishing an application form for event organizers to complete.