PLATTSBURGH — City of Plattsburgh councilors agreed to party time in downtown.
The Common Council unanimously approved a request to close a section of City Hall Place from Bridge Street to Lower Court Street to vehicular traffic for three First Weekend events, set for the first Saturday of July, August and September.
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That portion of the street will be blocked off to vehicular traffic from 2 to 5 p.m. to allow for music, exhibitions and other entertainment. The idea is to draw people downtown and generate revenue for local businesses.
Downtown merchant Colin Read said a group of business owners met recently and talked about the plan for First Weekends.
“There was a lot of enthusiasm in the room, and all agree on getting more visitors to downtown and creating more economic impact,” he told councilors at Thursday night’s meeting.
First Weekend premiered the evening of June 7 and all day June 8 in conjunction with the Biggest Loser Race events. All the music and entertainment was provided for free by volunteers.
Councilor Mark Tiffer (D-Ward 2) said the weekend was a big success, as many people attended and enjoyed the music and entertainment.
Initially, only one such weekend was planned for September, but the Biggest Loser provided an opportunity to do one earlier in the season. He said that with such success at the first event, the downtown merchants decided to try for three more.
“It seems like a viable event for the rest of the summer,” Tiffer said.
“There were multitudes on hand to make downtown more vibrant for a three-hour period. I can’t see any negative with this.”
Councilor Timothy Carpenter (D-Ward 1) said he was concerned initially about closing off the street, but after meeting with the merchants, he was convinced.
“I’m on board to allow this,” he said at Thursday night’s meeting.
Councilor James Calnon (I-Ward 4) said the plan was a good idea, but he encouraged more use of nearby Trinity Park as well.
“We will see how this plays out, and we may have to re-visit this at some time, but the comments about it generating more business are right on,” he said.
Councilor Chris Jackson (D-Ward 6) also supported the plan.
“Anything that can improve business downtown and get people used to going downtown is a good idea,” he said.
Musician Kevin Sabourin, who performed at the June First Weekend, said such events help the arts community.
“The city taking a proactive stance helps,” he said.
“I believe in the community and in the arts, and a lot of people want to believe in it.”
The remaining First Weekends will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. July 6, Aug. 3 and Sept. 7.
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