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LH Council asks for extension of Main Street closure

LOCK HAVEN –Lock Haven City Council wants to keep the weekend Pedestrian Mall downtown open until Oct. 31.

After a lengthy discussion Monday night, council unanimously agreed to ask PennDOT for an extension of the Main Street closure until the end of October.

The decision came after a survey of city businesses, as well as information from in-person meetings with members of the business community last week.

“I would say it was pretty much a mixture. I wouldn’t say it was overwhelmingly negative or overwhelmingly positive,” Director of Community Life Kasey Campbell said of the survey results.

Campbell said Downtown Lock Haven Inc. and the Clinton County Economic Partnership helped to create the survey. They received 34 replies.

The goal was to not only gather information about the impact of the Pedestrian Mall but also what the city, DLH and CCEP could do to help those in need.

“We can’t go back and change the past, but we can look at what we can do moving forward to help businesses a little bit better,” she said.

Campbell said that during the meetings communication was a large topic of discussion.

“One thing that I will say that we took from these meetings is our communication, how we can be better at communicating as a whole to the businesses,” she said.

Campbell also addressed the frustration some of the businesses outside of the Pedestrian Mall voiced.

“That was a big part of the survey. What the options would be, not just in the central business district but outside of it. That was something that Downtown Lock Haven and I talked about… just pushing people to the outer parts of town and not just in the central business district and what we can do,” she said.

Looking into the future, Campbell said creating more permanent signage may be one way they can direct residents and visitors to other restaurants outside the central business district.

Councilman Richard “Rick” Conklin noted that he’d been approached by residents and others who weren’t part of the business community.

“Walking throughout town they thought the signs for the alternative places were not big enough. They were almost invisible in light of the other stuff going on at the same time,” he said.

Councilman Steve Stevenson said he believed the signage they used was enough for those walking down the street adding that advertising for businesses isn’t necessarily the city’s responsibility.

“I think trail blazing to one individual business is not the job of the city to do. There are requirements of height and width of signs… unless you’re going to put a big darn billboard up that’s not going to happen,” he said. “Those signs were probably big enough temporarily to put up just to try and get everybody through everything.”

Conklin disagreed with Stevenson’s assessment.

“I think part of that is our responsibility because if a business goes out and sits empty… and it sits there for long periods of time that doesn’t benefit the city either,” he said.

In terms of businesses located within the Pedestrian Mall, Kasey said those who offered some negative feed back mostly consisted of issues with parking.

“Some of the negatives were the parking situation and how that negatively impacts them. Not just the Pedestrian Mall but in general,” she said.

Others who said they either felt no impact from the street closures or some negatives who said they were okay with it if it helped other businesses, she said.

The DLH board, with support from the Clinton County commissioners, requested the extension of the Pedestrian Mall into October.

Councilmen William “Bill” Mincer and Richard Morris both voiced concerns that the change in weather might impact those who would sit outside during fall.

“Quite honestly the weather is not going to be conducive to be sitting out at 9 or 10 o’clock at night,” he said.

Mincer said he enjoyed the Pedestrian Mall but wanted to be certain they had a solid plan to ensure it’s well used in October.

“I can’t imagine anybody wanting to sit out on Main Street on Oct. 31… I think (that) is a bit late realistically,” Morris said.

Stevenson referenced the survey, which asked if they would like the street closure to extend into October.

“Half of the 32 responders said “yes” with a number five as being absolutely. So it looks like there’s support for it,” he said. “There’s only one that said definitely not and then it went up from there.”

Councilwoman Barbara Masorti asked if anything is planned during the street closure.

“It’s a big project and there’s a lot involved in closing the street,” she said.

Stevenson, a member of DLH’s board, said plans are being made. “But if they don’t know they have the Pedestrian Mall they’re sort of spinning their wheels,” he said. “If we could give it (street closure) there’s a good possibility they could come up with something.”

“That’s all committee discussions, that’s for those two outfits to put something together. We can provide the facility and the means but they need to do the projects,” he continued.

Council unanimously approved the request that PennDOT extend the street closure to Oct. 31 with the Friday and Saturday hours unchanged. The street currently closes at 3 p.m. on Fridays and reopens at 9 p.m. on Saturdays.

Campbell said she spoke with a representative from PennDOT who said the turn around for the request should be relatively quick.

All members of council were present for Monday night’s meeting held via livestream on YouTube and Facebook.

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