City manager offers insight into Pedestrian Mall closure

LOCK HAVEN — Before Kasey Campbell, director of community life, presented city council with findings from a survey sent out to city businesses last week, City Manager Gregory Wilson offered his insight into why the Pedestrian Mall began in the first place in June.

Wilson referenced the city’s zoning codes which require a business in any commercial district, except the central business district (East Main Street in downtown), must have a parking lot to accommodate customers.

“What is meant to be normally a zoning provision to incentivize investment in downtown store fronts by removing the cost of providing parking and maintaining it… became a detriment during COVID-19 rather than a blessing,” he said. “So while restaurants and retailers across the community outside the central business district have parking lots into which they could expand their operations in the restrictions of the states green phase that is not true of the businesses in the central business district.”

Wilson said that the state at that point had chosen the “potential winners and losers among the businesses of our community.”

“Those outside the central business district had the opportunity to expand into their existing parking lots and businesses outside that district did not have the same opportunity,” he said.

This was the reasoning behind council’s request to close a section of Main Street for the Pedestrian Mall.

“Under the green phase the only way to combat the occupancy restrictions was to move business functions outside. This allowed restaurants like the Main Street Grill to have access to outdoor dining space just like Hangar 9 already does and always had because they have an on-site parking lot,” he said.

Wilson said the survey conducted produced positive comments, helpful suggestion and negative comments and wanted to thank city staff for their work in gathering this information and what they’d accomplished for the Pedestrian Mall.

“I want to say how exceptionally proud I am of members of city staff who worked so hard to help our local businesses that our state had chosen as losers in our regular downtown with its occupancy restrictions,” he said.

Wilson also thanked residents and those from surrounding communities who invested in locally owned businesses and their employees “one of our most valuable local resources.”


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