HUDSON — Some council members said they would like the city to consider closing some downtown streets to help businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Council member Skylar Sutton (Ward 3) said he’s had a couple residents ask about closing some streets in the First and Main area to give businesses more "elbow room" for outdoor dining and sales. Sutton said he thinks it would be a "great idea" and suggested reaching out to merchants for their feedback.
"I’d like to see us try to move that forward," added Sutton. "It seems like there’s a lot of resident support behind it."
Council President Bill Wooldredge (At Large) said he had also heard from residents interested in closing streets, as well as allowing businesses to use sidewalks and public green spaces.
"I think it’s a good thing to do and would be helpful to our struggling merchants," said Wooldredge.
Council member Kate Schlademan (Ward 1), who is also the owner of Learned Owl Book Shop in the city’s downtown, said the possibility of losing parking spaces is a "scary thing" for other merchants. She added she felt it was "really important" to speak with every downtown merchant about that issue.
"I just don’t know that [closing streets] is the right answer," said Schlademan, who suggested that a solution may lie in "relaxing regulations on some areas …[with] sidewalk sales and that kind of thing."
Council member Chris Foster said he received "a lot of really positive response" from residents about allowing restaurants to "utilize the space in First and Main."
City Manager Jane Howington said her staff has been working with merchants to try to set up a designated outdoor area where alcohol could be consumed. The concept has received "a lot of positives from the merchants," said Howington. She noted she will review the public safety issues of this effort with Police Chief Perry Tabak and then will have council discuss the topic at its workshop on May 26. She noted that this may lead into a discussion about closing streets.
Howington said she felt city officials need to look at how a potential closure of streets would affect the availability of parking downtown.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, email@example.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.