FRONT ROYAL – The Town Council is exploring the possibility of turning Main Street into a walking mall this weekend so shops can conduct business in outdoor tents.
The decision will be made based on a survey of Main Street business owners, the results of which Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick said are expected back on Thursday.
Town Councilman Jake Meza said he likes the idea of closing Main Street for businesses over Memorial Day weekend but that he would like to extend the closure past the weekend.
“If we can’t get something that’s more permanent, then I think that would be a really good idea to say, ‘hey, we’re gonna take these two or three days and we’re gonna do this to help support tourism, people getting out in the Town of Front Royal, support these businesses,’” he said. “Let’s make the investment on a weekend like that, I think it would be great.”
Councilman Chris Holloway agreed, saying a plan should be formulated before the weekend.
Tederick noted that the town’s procurement officer is prepared to rent tents, tables and chairs for businesses. He added that the thought with the tents is to “make it more of a permanent situation..and allow any business to set up an area and just do their retail out in their tents.”
“I’m happy to close Main Street. I would love to have Main Street closed for Memorial Day weekend and have restaurants out there on a nice sunny day and having a thriving, social distancing Main Street with merchandise, food and beverage,” he said.
Tederick added that he has already discussed the idea with Main Street business owners and received a “mixed signal,” adding that none of the negative feedback came from restaurant owners. He noted that the potential loss of parking along Main Street was the primary concern voiced but said there are “only a handful” of spaces that would be unavailable.
“It’s change, some people don’t like change,” he said.
Meza noted that “this COVID virus is hard and that’s a heck of a lot of change.” Councilman Lori Cockrell agreed, saying “that’s all we’ve all been having to do lately is change.”
If Main Street is completely closed, Tederick noted one potential challenge is that cars would not be able to pay bills in Town Hall’s drive-thru, so the closure may have to be implemented further to the east around Church Street.
The Town Council scheduled a special 7 p.m. Thursday work session, with the potential Main Street closure to be one matter discussed.