Downtown transformation: Business owners discuss changes to Mill and Main streets (VIDEO/PHOTO GALLERY)
Terrazzo lights over Mill Street, a Saturday sidewalk sale, bathrooms accessible by the public — these options and more were discussed Friday amongst a group of downtown Grass Valley business owners and city officials determined to make sure they survive the economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus.
“To me, this is extremely important to keep our downtown,” City Manager Tim Kiser said to the group of business owners. “This is number one priority for the City Council. Keep this downtown alive, because this is the gem of our city.”
The meeting came in the wake of new statewide restrictions stopping indoor dining. That led Grass Valley officials on Wednesday to block off a one-block section of Mill Street in downtown Grass Valley from Bank Street to West Main Street, encouraging visitors to visit the “outdoor pavilion.”
By the end of the Friday morning meeting, business owners seemed to be on the same page regarding the changes being made to downtown. However, frustration about being left out of the loop was expressed by some.
“I’m not going to say why and how we did not communicate,” Kiser said. “But we screwed up and I’ll take the blame for that. But I will tell you from this point forward, I’m willing to meet anytime you need. This is a group that in times like this, we should be pulling together and meeting more often.”
Downtown business owners expressed their concerns regarding lost parking due to the street closure of Mill Street, in which Kiser suggested using unused spaces at the Grass Valley City Hall parking lot.
For employees and business owners, Kiser offered to waive parking meter fees from the city’s metered lot at the corner of Neal and South Auburn streets.
Questions regarding alcohol on the streets were also addressed.
“Can we allow walking alcohol in the interim, for maybe just this block?” Kiser asked. “That’s a decision this group needs to make. Do you want people walking into your stores with alcohol?”
Currently, restaurants can already allow alcohol in the seating in front of their establishments.
Concerns regarding COVID-19 and bringing more people into the downtown were also discussed.
“I thought this was a great idea, then what if this all becomes a big party place? We’re going to have a big COVID surge,” a business owner asked.
“I was going to be pitching this, that this is for locals, this is for Nevada County,” Kiser said. “There’s 30,000 people just outside the city limits in addition to the 12,000 that live here that our downtown supports. Those are the people that we want them to come downtown, shop downtown, the mall is closed down the hill, stay here and shop.”
Kiser also mentioned that a police officer will be dedicated to the downtown area. If there are any issues with social distancing, the officer can be called in.
To contact Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 530-477-4230.
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