No bikes, skateboards or animals allowed – that could be the case soon, during Montrose's popular downtown weekly summer event.
“We love skateboards, bikes and dogs, but we don't believe the best place for them is at Main in Motion,” MIM Boardmember Julianne Messenger said at a recent MIM open house.
Main in Motion is the 12-week event, starting in June, that closes six blocks of Montrose's Main Street, to fill it with live music, vendors and activities for several hours, on Thursday evenings.
In its ten-year history, the event has grown from a few hundred pedestrians walking the sidewalks to anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 visitors per week, according to the board.
“We are thrilled that everyone thinks this is a family event – to the extent that the family dog comes too! – but the sheer number is not manageable, and we have to look for a solution that is best for everyone,” Messenger told The Watch.
MIM Board Chairwoman Kendra Morrow said the board has received dozens of letters from concerned attendees about safety concerns regarding having so many animals in one place.
“We've has some less-than-desirable doggie encounters,” Messenger said. “It concerns us that it is only a matter of time before we have an actual issue and nobody wants that….It's an environment ripe for problems.”
Some letters also raised concerns about people on bikes and other wheeled transportation.
“Having bikes, skateboards…traveling through, pedaling at different speeds, it's not conducive to safety,” Messenger said. “We need to have a more pedestrian-exclusive environment.”
Montrose Police Chief Tom Chinn agreed, saying the situation “deserves some special attention,” and that an amendment to the city's rules addressing these concerns “would be a good thing for public safety.”
Chinn referred to other communities, including Telluride and Grand Junction, with regulations in place for their community events.
Morrow said the board is taking its concerns to the Downtown Development Authority and to the City of Montrose, to see what must be done to set these safety rules in motion.
Montrose City Manager Bill Bell said a change would most likely come in the form of an amendment to city ordinances that could be applied to any large community event where public safety may be threatened.
He said that amendment could come before city councilors for approval as early as the end of April, but as of March 27, he had not yet discussed the matter with councilors or with the city's legal department.
The Main in Motion board had more news to announce at the open house, including the fact that the City of Montrose is waiving its street closure fee that costs the board $6,000 last year.
That announcement got a round of applause from the open house attendees.
“It's a good step in the right direction,” Morrow said.
In addition to soliciting community input and attracting volunteers, the open house was held to brief downtown business owners and gain their support for the popular summer event, she said.
“We wanted to let them know they have a voice and it's welcomed,” Morrow said.
The board has now filled two vacant board positions with downtown representatives, a welcome addition to a board on which Morrow had been the board’s only downtown property and business owner.
“When I first got on the board, there were six members that had businesses on Main Street,” Morrow said. “We are trying to encourage them to participate because they need to have a voice.”
The small volunteer board emphasized the need for community and teen volunteers to help make the event more successful, and requested help with activities, including monitoring the event and possibly appointing a teen board to run the teen activities.
The MIM board has approached the city's Youth Council on that front, and attended its Teen Opportunity Expo on March 28.
Volunteer applications are available online at www.maininmotion.com and a MIM volunteer meeting and training will be at 6 p.m. on May 16 in Centennial Plaza.
Electric power for vendors and musicians in the downtown area has been an issue in recent years, and not just for Main in Motion, but for all downtown events, DDA Director Scott Shine said.
The DDA is pursuing a solution, and anticipates hiring a private contractor to install more outlets. Delta-Montrose Electric Association has helped the DDA research this solution, and the DDA is currently analyzing projected expenses, Shine said.
“This is a long-term solution to a problem that we've been hearing a lot about,” he said. “It would benefit a lot of events down the road.”
Main in Motion has a new website, www.maininmotion.com, with vendor and volunteer applications and more information on the upcoming 2012 event.