Council OKs street closures for summer Chamber events

A monthly Friday night summer celebration will have a prominent downtown presence as the City Council of Webster City approved the closure of Second Street from Superior to Prospect streets on three Friday nights in June, July and August.

The new proposal by the Chamber of Commerce, called Summer Nights, would encompass four blocks and would feature food vendors, live music, outdoor movies and possibly businesses that would stay open for the event.

“The proposed closing from Superior to Prospect is a little more than what we’ve done before,” said City Manager Ed Sadler. “But Deb (Brown) will be talking to business owners so that they will be aware of this.”

Sadler said would also propose that Farmers Market participants come in on those Friday nights and set up.

“We have agreed that we will set up movie projection equipment off of Second St. and the Chamber will line up the movies,” Sadler said. “This could be a nice evening out on Friday nights during the summer.”

“I walked the area and wanted to see if it was too long,” said Chamber Director Deb Brown. “But I thought if we don’t go big, why go at all. We have Chamber members at both ends. We’ll have live music and food for sale.”

She said the profits from the food sales would go to local charities.

“We hope our people will keep their shops open late and the restaurants will stay open. This should bring some tourists in as well as local people,” she said.

“This is a great fresh idea,” said Mayor Janet Adams.

The council members approved the street closure request. The Summer Nights promotion is planned for July 14, July 5 and Aug. 9 from 5:30 p.m. to 12 a.m.

A proposed sidewalk trail on the east side of Superior Street from Ohio Street to Fair Meadow Drive was discussed, but action on the matter was delayed.

Sadler said the proposal calls for a six-foot wide “trail” would allow for the city to clear snow from the paved sidewalk with a pickup truck. While he called it a trail, Sadler said that for funding purposes, the paved walkway would not be eligible for any traditional trail funds.

“I believe that an eight- or 10-foot trail would be very difficult to place on either side of the street because of the creek, drainage ditches and narrow right of ways make it very difficult if not impossible to build, in addition to adding significantly more cost,” he said.

The estimated cost for building the short trail would be $188,613. Sadler said in his memo to the council that spending “this much on the trail will mean two less blocks of total rebuilt roads.”

The plan, if it were approved by the council, would be put on the 2014 work schedule.

The City Council members were divided on their support for the project.

“I think for the cost of it , I really have some reservations,” said Adams. “I wish we had some kind of a study about how many people would use it.”

“And really bicycles couldn’t use the sidewalk, because we don’t allow them on our sidewalks. I think for the trade off, its a lot of money. I would not be in favor for this reason,” she said. Adams added that several streets were still in dire need of repair.

Councilman Geary Meyer said he knew of people who live east of the Farm Credit Building.

“Since we’ve been discussing this, I’ve made an effort to drive around Superior and see how many people walking there,” said Meyer. He said he has seen more people walking in the area than he anticipated.

“I’ve also had more calls from people wanting their street fixed than I’ve seen people walking in those few blocks,”Meyer said. “I would lean towards reinvesting the money in street repair.”

Linda Conaway said she favored finding the funds to do the project now rather than later.

“As we know, that’s an area of the city where we are going to see a lot of growth,” she said.

“I’ve seen a lot of foot traffic out there – morning, noon and night,” she said.

“I think it’s a safety issue,” said Councilman Jerry Kloberdanz.

Action on the matter was delayed until the full council will be present. Councilman Doug Getter was absent from the meeting.