City Beautiful 21 » Carrboro, Celebrations, Children, Culture, Food, Piazzas, Plazas, Parks and Squares, Safety, Street Design, Tourism, Walking » Key Take-away From Summer Streets: It’s Time For Autumn Streets
Sunday, July 19th, from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm, Carrboro held its second “Summer Streets” (Herald Sun article) event, in which the block of Weaver St between Main St and North Greensboro St was opened to people and closed to cars. For the umpteenth time in the decade and a half I’ve lived here, the Town closed this portion of Weaver Street with no visible negative impacts to traffic or downtown in general.
As usual, people came out and enjoyed a calm public space, kids drew with chalk, and everyone generally had a grand time relaxing, even with 100-degree heat index temperatures. People did yoga, hung out in folding chairs just talking, and one of our Aldermen even held “office hours” for the second time during such an event.
What does opening a street to people do for a town? Stuff like this:
Kurt Stolka and his 3-year-old son walked around Weaver Street after playing a game of soccer in the street.
He said when there is traffic on Weaver Street, “I just can’t feel calm letting my kids play. You have to constantly keep an eye on them.”
But the Summer Streets program helps parents like him relax, he said.
Kurt is absolutely correct. I took the picture to the right at the 2012 Carrboro Music Festival. I was able to take this photo because I did not have to hold DC’s hand in a vise grip in downtown Carrboro to provide protection from the greatest danger to children, cars. Why is this so important? Sure, I can take DC to Wilson Park, Carrboro Elementary School, McDougle School, or MLK Park and take advantage of any of the stuff there in the same way, but none of those places have the amenities of downtown in terms of food, commerce, and culture.
Back in May, WCHL reported that the Town was only going to hold three Summer Streets events, and to end them at 2:00 pm each time. This was due to concerns from “…local business owners inside Carr Mill Mall who don’t love the idea. They worry the street closures will keep shoppers away from the mall.”
Given the people-attracting quality a street closure can provide, I was baffled by these concerns. Fortunately, the latest Herald-Sun article reports:
“…[Carrboro Economic Development Director Annette] Stone said that after last month’s event, she sent out an email to business owners. She said she didn’t receive any negative responses and several businesses expressed support for the program.
Seeing as there appears to be broad agreement that there’s not problem here, let’s not take any more half-measures in managing what could be one of our community’s marquee public spaces- let’s set up an “Autumn Streets” program that starts the first Sunday in September and runs EVERY SUNDAY until the Sunday before Thanksgiving, from 8:00 am to 9:00 or 10:00 pm.
That would be twelve glorious autumn days to come downtown and relax, and twelve other great opportunities to try ways to program the block to engage residents. There are plenty of tourism co-promotion opportunities between UNC football games, 2nd Friday Art Walks, etc to take advantage of as well to engage visitors.
If you think this is a good idea, please email the Carrboro Board of Aldermen and let them know “I support weekly Autumn Streets!”