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Main Street Live may close Main Street
Main Street
McMinnville officials could be serving up a new addition to this year’s Main Street Live summer concert series. They are considering closing a portion of Main Street due to safety concerns. Pictured is David Marttala offering an event favorite, a hot fudge cake sundae.

McMinnville officials have given tentative approval to close Main Street during the Friday night summer concert series called Main Street Live. 

The concerts are offered on Friday nights beginning June 7 and continuing through July 26 on the West Lawn of Security Federal. Closed will be the portion of Main Street from its connection with Morrison Street to High Street, from approximately 5:30 to 9 p.m. Traffic will be detoured through West Colville Street to South High Street.  

Initial approval came from the city Streets and Sanitation Committee. Board of Mayor and Aldermen approval will be required. 

Alderman Steve Harvey expressed a desire to close the street as an alternative to last year when the city decided to funnel traffic from three lanes down to one and establish a pedestrian crosswalk. His idea to close the street drew support from Alderman Rachel Kirby.

“I would like to close the street, if we could work it out,” said Kirby. “I don’t have any experience with the repercussions with that.”

Besides motorists, affected would be Super Rama Foods which has expressed opposition in the past to a complete street closure. Also residents of D’Ville Apartments have assigned parking spaces in a lot adjacent to Main Street.

Closure received legal approval.

“This is a public safety issue,” said city attorney Tim Pirtle. “You’ve got the sidewalk on the event side and any kid could take a misstep and be out in one of those lanes of travel. Last year was the best scenario that you’ve ever had. It was the safest scenario you’ve ever had, but it worries me as the city attorney that we might be putting, particularly children, in harm’s way unnecessarily. We close streets for other events.”

Pirtle added, “At the end of the day, safety concern has got to be the No. 1 priority. Nine-five percent of the time when y’all express liability, I tell you the city is immune from most lawsuits. However, if we create the dangerous condition by hosting an open-air music concert downtown and taking control of the right of ways, you are exposing the city to potential liability.”

McMinnville Police Department officers will be used to divert traffic onto Colville Street and provide directional assistance when they reach High Street. 

“I promise you, when you get down to High Street, there will be people who live here sitting there struggling to determine which way to go,” said Police Chief Bryan Denton. “People from out of town won’t be the only ones doing that. We will have someone to monitor that. Again, we will handle it, whatever the decision is.”

Alderman Steve Harvey stated, “There’s only one way to find out how it will work.” 

“I make a motion that we try it a couple of times to see,” said Kirby. 

The measure was approved 2-1. Kirby and Harvey voted in favor of closing the portion of Main Street during the Main Street Live events, while Alderman Mike Neal voted against it.