Carrboro leaders approved a plan to open Weaver Street to pedestrians throughout the summer, but some business owners are worried about how it will impact their bottom line.
The “Summer Streets” pilot program won unanimous approval from Carrboro Aldermen on Tuesday.
“I think it’s overdue. We’ve been thirsty for this for a long time,” said Alderwoman Randee Haven-O’Donnell.
The east block of Weaver Street from North Greensboro to Main will be closed to car traffic from 8 a.m.- 2:30 p.m. on one Sunday morning each month from June through August. The program is an extension of the town’s annual Open Streets day.
Proponents, including the Carrboro Bicycle Coalition’s John Rees, says the once-a-year event has garnered great feedback from the community. He’s excited about the chance to expand the program.
“People are asking, ‘why can’t we do this all the time?’ and so basically I just urge the town to embrace the idea and do it as much as possible,” Rees told the board.
However, Carrboro’s Economic Development Director Annette Stone says she’s heard from some local business owners inside Carr Mill Mall who don’t love the idea. They worry the street closures will keep shoppers away from the mall.
She suggested possible solutions might involve hosting events inside the mall or bringing vendor tables out into the street.
“I think it’s really important for us to monitor what happens with the first event, and then think about the whole question some have asked about bringing a table out,” said Stone. “So that brings a whole other level to it. We have to consider how many get to come out and where you put them and who is going to manage that kind of thing.”
The Board of Aldermen agreed they want to monitor the impact on businesses during the first event.
“I would also love to hear a concrete plan for touching base with business owners before the event so that we have real data about sales,” said Alderwoman Bethany Chaney. “My hunch is restaurants benefit more from something like this than retail businesses. So it would be interesting to see if there’s a disproportionate impact, and if there is, how can we address that in a positive way and be helpful.”
The first Summer Streets event is scheduled for Sunday, June 21.