With the completion of the truck route, the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce welcomed the unique opportunity to close down a portion of Main Street for special events such as parades and street fairs. The intent -- to draw area residents downtown to enjoy music, food and vendors, and to see what Main Street merchants had to offer.
Similar events have been confined to side streets in the past; this year the chamber obtained a permit to close Main for three Downtown DeltaFests, the last on Sept. 10.
Those three events were enough to convince many downtown merchants that shutting down Main Street is a bad idea. To allow vendors time to set up, city crews have blocked off the street as early as 3 p.m. for an event that started at 5 p.m.
Traffic was redirected from Highway 92 to 6th, although the event itself was confined to the 300-500 blocks, depending on the number of vendors, which varied.
Scott Thomassen, co-owner of Classic Computers said the closure cut off access to his business, which is located at 238 Main Street. Customers who didn't realize they could access parking via the alley had to park some distance away -- not the ideal scenario for those carrying a computer in need of repair.
"I understand the intent is to bring people downtown, but closing the whole street is not the answer," Thomassen said. "I would like to see the street remain open in front of my business if they're not going to put any vendors there."
Another business owner in the 200 block threatened legal action.
A petition was circulated saying Main Street should be closed only for maintenance, emergencies, parades and Halloween. The petition was signed by 33 individuals, some from the same business.
Because of the negative feedback, the chamber is rethinking the street fairs. "The need is still there," chamber director Leslie Workman said at a city council work session last week, "but I don't know what the street fairs will look like in 2016."
Workman has invited every person who signed the petition to air their concerns at a meeting Sept. 22. She also hopes to hear some possible solutions.
"We just want to do something positive for the community," she said.