We Are Downtown may be ready to make another try at persuading the city to close Second Street — at least between Allen and St. Ann streets — on Friday nights and Saturdays.
Debi Ford, the booster organization’s chairwoman, said, “I’ve talked to a lot of shop owners and downtown residents and there seems to be a lot of support for closing it — at least on weekends.”
With most of the downtown restaurants offering sidewalk dining these days, it’s dangerous to have cars and trucks driving by a couple of feet away at 30 to 35 mph, she said.
Downtown advocates have complained for years about the speed of vehicles traveling along Second Street as well as the noise.
Ford said, “Last night, I was eating dinner outside of Don Mario’s with my daughter and two grandchildren. There was so much traffic going by.”
She said she was afraid that her grandson would get up and step off the curb into traffic.
Ford said she would love to see the street closed — at least on Friday nights and Saturdays — and have tables placed in the street for more outdoor dining.
She said she’s trying to set up a meeting for We Are Downtown in the next couple of weeks to gauge support for the idea before taking it to the city commission.
“If anybody has issues with it, we can discuss them at the meeting,” Ford said. “I want downtown to be safe and inviting.”
This isn’t the first time the idea has come up.
At We Are Downtown’s only meeting in 2020, just before COVID-19 hit, John Condray, a partner in The Pub on Second, suggested that the city close Second Street downtown from Friday evening to Sunday morning to make it more walkable for events.
In 2014, the organization considered asking the city to close Second on Friday nights during Friday After 5 — from May 16 through Aug. 29.
The idea was to allow pedestrian strolling and other activities in the middle of Second from Daviess to Frederica streets.
But Natasha Gaw, who was then chairwoman of the organization, said, “We’re just going to let it be open. It was closed for so long, and it’s good to see cars down here again.”
The street had been at least partly closed for most of the past year while the city replaced old sewer lines and rebuilt intersections and sidewalks.
Gaw said no vote was taken, “but there was a discussion and we got the feeling that people weren’t for it.”
But that was seven years ago.
Ford hopes that more people are in favor of the idea now.
Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301 firstname.lastname@example.org