Juli Messenger, Main in Motion board member, said the first-time closing off of Main Street did a lot to bring more vendors and visitors downtown, doubling last year’s numbers even though on the last Thursday, some sought seek shelter inside shops until the rain passed.
Messenger said surveys were given out at the last Main in Motion and will be sent out to all vendors and sponsors to get “broad-based feedback.”
Initial results from the survey show overwhelmingly that the street closure was the thing people like best this year, she said.
“It was a challenge for the Main in Motion board to meet the dramatic growth this year,” Messenger said. “But we did it, and are looking forward to planning the 2011 season.”
Closing off Main Street, as most people know, was made possible by the state allowing the city to bypass several blocks of Main Street by moving part of the route of U.S. Highway 50 to San Juan Avenue.
City clerk Terri Colvin is Main in Motion’s primary contact, and “could not be more helpful and responsive and thoughtful,” Messenger said.
Colvin said anyone can request a street closure in the city, but Main Street can only be closed off from Townsend Avenue to Park Avenue at present. Smaller portions could be blocked off too, she said, and the city is very happy about Main in Motion’s success this summer.
“I heard that businesses were receptive and I believe sales and use taxes are up for June,” she said. “The city plans to have a lot more street closures in the future. It went well and we’re excited for more.”
Colvin’s office should be notified when groups of 100 or more are planning to meet on public property, such as parks, but anyone can request a street closure for events, Colvin said. She can be reached at 240-1435.
Bob Brown, owner of Around the Corner Gallery and also a Main in Motion board member, said the board worked hard to meet the challenges of bigger crowds and a changed venue.
“It didn’t hurt that we had great weather every time, and even on the last day when it rained, people just went in stores for a while, and when it stopped they stepped back out and had a good time,” he said.
City funding for Main in Motion was cut off this year, but now the event is underwritten by sponsors and paying vendors, Brown said.
“We’re in good shape for next year and we anticipate that we’ll close the street again and go forward,” he said. “And other organizations like the Downtown Development Authority will be there to help financially if they need it.”
Once all the surveys are received, the Main in Motion board plans to take a retreat, Messenger said, consider all the input, and look at ways to solve some of the challenges they faced before next season.
More hands-on volunteer help is desperately needed, Messenger said, since only a handful of board members put on this year’s events without knowing ahead of time just how much closing the street would increase interest.
“The one thing we know for sure is that we need additional bodies and help to continue next year,” she said. “We were completely overwhelmed and I’m exhausted.”