Nevada City streets proposed for closure to create public space
June 17, 2013
Drivers headed into downtown Nevada City's streets could see more of those roads handed over exclusively for pedestrian use as the town's businesses and residents have requested city approval for ongoing street closures.
Already, Nevada City's Council unanimously approved the closure of York Street between Broad and Commercial streets from 5 to 10:30 p.m. Friday nights beginning July 5 through Sept. 15.
That request came from the owners of Treat's ice cream parlor on York Street, who envision a "temporary, informal, community gathering place where local families and friends could meet on summer weekend evenings," according to the staff report on the proposal.
The shop owners will be responsible for setting up closure signs, chairs, tables, lighting and cleanup.
“We haven’t fully researched this yet, but what about closing it off every Friday night?
— Cathy Whittlesey, Nevada City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director
On the heels of council's approval of that proposal Wednesday, a second closure was previewed, though not formally requested, pertaining to Commercial Street from Pine Street to the parking lot behind the Alpha Building, just before the "Y" intersection with Main and Coyote streets.
That second request is expected for council scrutiny at its June 26 meeting and stems from an impromptu street closure at the initial First Friday Art Walk in Nevada City. The art walk is touted as a celebration of Nevada City's diverse mix of galleries, artisan boutiques, retail shops, wine tasting rooms, restaurants and the town's artistic and creative community in general.
Event coordinator Cynthia Levesque and supporters told the council Wednesday that the first art walk June 7 was so successful that many more people converged on Nevada City's streets than expected.
Attending Nevada City Police Officer Shane Franssen made an unanticipated and on-the-scene determination to close off Commercial Street for the attendees' safety and to avoid traffic incidents, said Nevada City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cathy Whittlesey.
"We're very supportive of it," Whittlesey said. "It was so successful, and our businesses were very happy."
The concept of closing streets and converting them to public space in downtown and other metropolitan areas is becoming more common in cities, a staff report on the York Street closure indicates.
Nevada City is not unfamiliar with the concept. The town converted three parking spaces on Commercial Street into a public space commonly referred to as the Boardwalk that was constructed in August 2011 by the Nevada County Sustainability Team. As a temporary construct, it garnered a one-year extension in November 2012.
In addition to asking for repeated closures during First Fridays, the chamber and other supporters are mulling a possible request to close Commercial Street every Friday, Whittlesey said.
"We haven't fully researched this yet, but what about closing it off every Friday night? We don't know if the businesses want it, so we need to talk to the businesses first. But we feel like (the number of people who attended the initial First Friday) is going to happen if there is entertainment on the Boardwalk."
Nevada City Manager David Brennan said the city would be amiable to the request if it helped businesses in the historic downtown district.
First Fridays occur from 5 to 9 p.m. and information can be found by calling 530-575-8846 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4236.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story inaccurately listed an additional weekly day for the York Street closures, based on an outdated Nevada City staff report. The Union regrets that error. Also, Levesque has clarified that she does not support closing Commercial Street on more Fridays than her monthly art event, First Friday, as stated in an earlier draft due to inaccurate information provided to The Union.