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Street closures discussed at meeting
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The first community meeting to discuss downtown street closures and how best to conduct those was held last week. McMinnville officials are using the information gathered to generate a policy and procedure guidelines. A second meeting to present the guidelines will be held Jan. 30.

How to hold events on Main Street without negatively affecting businesses that depend on the area for their livelihood was the question addressed during a first public input session last week. 

A second session has been scheduled for Jan. 30 at 5 p.m.

“We plan to share our reformed policy and procedure for downtown events and street closures,” said Katie Kemezis, city planner for the Community Development Department about the second session. 

She described the first session held last week as positive. 

“I felt like we had a very productive meeting. We listened to a lot of good suggestions and we are using those to develop a policy. That policy will be presented on Jan. 30. We hope to receive additional feedback.”

At meeting No. 1, Kemezis got the discussion going. 

“We do want events downtown, but we need to figure out the best way to manage them. Is that a fair assumption?”

Nods and verbal affirmations came from the audience of 25 to 30 people.

“All right, then we will work on that assumption and work toward figuring out the best way to hold events downtown,” she said. “Ultimately, what we are working on is a process for the city so we can get those events approved.”

Suggested was not closing Main Street for inaugural events, maybe allowing a partial closure of Court Square. If the event is offered in subsequent years and starts gaining popularity, then city officials can give consideration to closing more of Court Square and eventually Main Street.

“So, a tiered approval system,” said Kemezis, who wrote down the recommendation.

Suggested was construction of bathroom facilities for visitors to downtown events because they use bathrooms in businesses meant for customers only. 

“So, there’s a persistent bathroom problem and a solution is needed,” said Kemezis. 

Suggested was restricting the duration of street closures by making sure it closes when necessary and re-opens promptly. 

“So, the length of street closure and making sure there’s no dead time,” said Kemezis. “We want that time used efficiently.” 

Suggested was the use of downtown signage, emails, flyers or increased advertising to notify downtown businesses of when an event will be and what that entails. 

“It might be difficult to go door-to-door to hand out a flyer,” said Kemezis. “Is that reasonable to ask for? Maybe a social media aspect that can be utilized.” 

One downtown business owner expressed a desire for city officials being more cognizant of Saturdays being big shopping days for downtown retail businesses.

“What I’m hearing is there’s a little bit of tension because the big shopping days downtown (Saturdays) are the days for downtown events,” said Kemezis. “What are ways to be able to make sure your customers are able to get to your shop and still have an event downtown?”

Suggested was keeping one lane open on Main Street and use of a guard at the crosswalk for the safety of pedestrians. However, opponents of that say an open street puts the event organizer at risk if someone does step into the road and is injured. 

Also discussed during the meeting were the positive impact caused by downtown events:

Potential cash flow to businesses

Increased tourism and tourism dollars

Additional sales tax revenue

Improved sense of community

Downtown businesses benefiting from event advertising

The potential relocation of business into downtown

Encourage individuals to move here

Increased property tax revenue for both city and county governments

Events promote the city of McMinnville

Most events benefit nonprofit organizations

The meeting was held at the Warren County Chamber of Commerce. It lasted more than an hour. The second session will also be held at the Chamber.