Board puts brakes on Market Street closing – Mount Airy News

6August 2020

Maria Kriska, standing at right, an owner of Thirsty Souls Neighborhood Brewing on Market Street, speaks in favor of an entertainment district being developed there throughout a public online forum of Thursday afternoon’s city board conference. Others will get an opportunity to discuss the strategy at a main public hearing considered for later this month.

While usually supporting the creation of the proposed Market Street Home entertainment District, the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners decided Thursday afternoon that a public hearing should be conducted before it ends up being reality.

That plan, presented to the board last month by Main Street Organizer Lizzie Morrison of the group Mount Airy Downtown Inc., requires closing a part of Market Street on weekends throughout warmer months to develop a pedestrian-only area.

This would consist of the moving of picnic tables in and out of the closed area– from near Market Street’s middle south to Franklin Street– to permit outside dining, with open containers of alcohols there another part of the proposal.

The once-rundown Market Street has undergone a major change in recent years and is now home to 6 services, consisting of 2 craft beer/restaurant operations that draw much night life.

Morrison stated last month that the proposed home entertainment district was targeted at increasing service opportunities for dining facilities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“This task is an outcome of COVID-19,” the Main Street coordinator reiterated Thursday afternoon when presenting a final prepare for commissioner approval, “but also an outcome of the increased property (usage) in the location.”

That consists of neighboring condo and house dwellers for whom the home entertainment district would serve as “a living room, if you will,” included Morrison, saying Mount Airy Downtown is keeping an eye out for both residential and organisation stakeholders.

Under the plan fine-tuned given that last month, the afflicted portion of Market Street would be closed to traffic from 4 p.m. on Fridays to 9 p.m. on Sundays from March 1 through Dec. 1.

This would accompany an ordinance modification to allow the usage of malt drinks or unfortified wine in the home entertainment district, which the commissioners likewise were asked to authorize Thursday afternoon as part of the overall strategy.

Cops Chief Dale Watson stated the open-container provision and the closing of part of Market Street are considered a package deal.

Morrison says the location would not simply work as an outdoors dining location or “beer garden,” but be available for extra shows such as food truck occasions, creative and farmers’ market activities. “I desire this to be neighborhood area,” she encouraged.

“We’re thinking we would like to start this on Sept. 4,” Morrison stated, and preserve the district for a trial period to see how it works.

Public hearing authorized

Commissioner Jon Cawley, whose recommendation last month to lengthen the weekend closures from a preliminary April through October duration was incorporated into the final proposition, stated Thursday he likes the idea of a pedestrian-only area.

Nevertheless, both Cawley and Commissioner Tom Koch said they had actually both been gotten in touch with by some company owner on Market Street who are opposed to the entertainment district and related closures.

“I can’t support this until the people who put their organisation there … are pleased,” he stated.

“Other than that, I’m happy with it,” Cawley commented.

This resulted in a recommendation by Tom Koch to hold a public online forum to enable interested parties to weigh in on the strategy. It later prompted a motion by Commissioner Steve Yokeley that a public hearing be held rather– which he discussed would be more formal.

The board voted 5-0 to set the hearing for its next meeting on Aug. 20 to allow citizens to be heard on the concern.

“Prior to we make an arbitrary choice, let’s provide a chance to talk to us,” Koch reasoned.

Someone made her viewpoint known during a public online forum part of Thursday’s meeting. Maria Kriska, an owner of Thirsty Souls Community Developing on Market Street, said she thinks the entertainment district would be “very helpful” to the local dining establishment industry.

Morrison, who stated she supported the concept of a hearing, acknowledged the opposition of some to the strategy, saying Mount Airy Downtown rarely attains a “total agreement” from every property owner on projects undertaken.

As for Market Street, the planner said actions were included to address the issues of company operators opposing the proposal, including ensuring the street would not be blocked in front of their establishments.

Based upon material presented last month, a 15-minute parking and loading zone turn-around area would be created to benefit retail and service entities.

The commissioners did offer their OKAY Thursday for a little automobile alleyway behind Thirsty Souls Community Developing to be transformed into a permanent pedestrian location as part of the general changeover.

It will be called “Melva’s Alley” in memory of Melva Houston, a worldwide known singer who lived in Mount Airy before losing a battle with cancer earlier this year.

Likewise approved was the painting of crosswalk and other areas on Market Street.

Tom Joyce might be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.


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