City to pause, evaluate Edmonds’ Walkable Main Street pilot

Barriers were put in place June 21 to close off Main Street for the first day of pedestrian-only access. (File photo by Larry Vogel)

The City of Edmonds said it will take advantage of the long holiday weekend to put a “brief pause” on its Walkable Main Street pilot project.

“We’ve had very positive feedback from residents, restaurants, and some retailers,” said Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson. “Right now is a good opportunity to catch our breath, take a look at what’s working and where to make adjustments.”

The city has closed areas of downtown around Main Street to vehicle traffic for the past two weekends. During the first weekend — June 20-21 — vehicles were prohibited on Main Street between 3rd and 6th avenues. The following weekend — June 27-28 — closures were extended to include 5th Avenue between Main and Dayton streets..

“The first weekend we had great weather and I think people were just itching to get outside. We got a lot of great comments,” said Patrick Doherty, the city’s Director of Economic Development and Community Services. “Last Saturday was very rainy, which brought out fewer people.”

The city said in a Wednesday news release that restaurants in general enjoy the opportunity to seat people outside, and some restaurant owners reported some of their best days all year. The results were mixed for retailers, with some seeing a marked uptick in foot traffic and sales, and others reporting slow sales.

The issues of vehicle circulation and pedestrian safety also need to be more carefully reviewed, the city said.

“All of these things are to be expected,” Doherty said. “We will work with our community partners to see how we can move this idea forward in a way that works for as many people and businesses as possible.”

In the coming weeks, the city will work closely with downtown businesses to find the best path forward, the announcement said, after which Future Walkable Main Street dates will be announced.

 

 

25 Replies to “City to pause, evaluate Edmonds’ Walkable Main Street pilot”

  1. I’ve heard nothing but good feedback for the concept. It takes weeks to review? Why not review and course correct if necessary while continuing the weekend closures? I thought Edmonds wasn’t such a plodding bureaucracy?
    Show some willingness to be decisive and supportive of the favored concept.

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    1. I agree with first statement. Why not course correct on the go, silly to change it on one of the busiest weekends of the year. Feel like you are cheating the businesses of an oppertunity to recover some losses for the year.

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  2. Maybe a compromise of sorts; close the streets after 3pm; giving shoppers places to park during the day and diners the ability to eat outside and walk the town. Unless the city is having the trolley taking people to different areas to part the amount of parking spaces are to limiting to me. Great for those who live downtown but we get too many people visiting; it makes it unwelcoming when people need to park 5-6 blocks away and then carry purchases from stores and or the market. Just a thought…

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    1. The parking issue is a really good one. For me what makes Edmonds attractive is that it is not too big an attraction. Do not mind walking a few blocks but would never go if I had to park and shuttle.

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  3. Who doesn’t enjoy sidewalk dining on a sunny warm day? Maybe this works better as a event than as a lifestyle. A great test would be the coming and going of cars parking from a full Edmonds Theater and Rick Steves travel classes. Maybe figure out how to open real restrooms. How is this helping, or hurting, the majority of Edmonds cafes, restaurants and businesses which are not on those blocks?

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  4. We should be asking, “What is it we’re trying to achieve?” Without getting agreement on that question how do we measure what’s working or not working? Getting agreement is the hardest part. Once there is a strong consensus on what we’re trying to achieve, with all businesses as part of that consensus, then ways to achieve that can be evaluated – closing the streets all day or part of the day – closing some streets but not others – closing every weekend or just one weekend a month, etc. Also, once the positive and negatives are evaluated (cost/benefits) for each option, it’s possible to come up with ways to increase the positives and mitigate the negatives. For instance, lack of parking near retail businesses seems to be one of the major valid concerns. Is there a way to mitigate that – either by finding lots very close by or limiting the hours to after stores close as many cities do in Europe? My main concern is that all the stakeholders are involved in the decision making and that we have a clear idea and agreement on what we’re trying to achieve. Major decisions like this really deserve to be decided on a consensus basis – all stakeholders can live with decision – vs. straight majority rule.

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  5. I actually live in Mountlake Terrace, and hope it is ok to comment here. I think it would be a mistake to make any attraction too big right now due to virus. Also due to virus it would be fantastic to give the restaurants more outdoor space if that would help them survive this economical debaucle. Ask them. They would need umbrellas, more furniture, gates around their area. Summer is only 2.5 months in PNW. And many of us like the sun when it comes out but do not want to sit and bake in it. Maybe the restaurants would like to do as Laurie suggested and spread out late afternoon for Happy Hour and dinner.

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  6. I believe a short term goal should provide help to restaurants. Many diners are reluctant to eat inside. Expense of new umbrellas, tables, etc. may be too much for them. Diners will also stroll and buy at shops.
    We’ve dined 2 weekends (Sundays) and enjoyed it.
    Open the public restroom (more sanitary than porta potties).

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  7. This is one of my favorite ideas that has come from the city of Edmonds since the plan to work with local businesses to share parking lot use to the public after business hours. There is definitely an issue with reduced parking, but this helps with social distancing space (we have all seen people walk into traffic to avoid being too close on the sidewalk), and it was great way for the restaurants to be safe and responsible.

    As a resident of Edmonds, and someone who spends a lot of time downtown, I would love this to be permanent. At least on the weekends if not everyday.

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  8. I’ve lived in cities in other countries where there was initial resistance to converting part of a main street to pedestrian-only, but once it happened and retailers and pedestrians got used to the freedom no-one has ever wanted to go back to the days of traffic. What you get is an enclave of European-style living, with sidewalk cafes, buskers and a gentle pace. To make it work well though one needs nearby off-street parking, some well-maintained public toilets, and decent public transport.

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    1. J assist ppl who are challenged to ambulate those distances. Yet, these are the Facebook who have enjoyed living hete for decades. 40 years +/-. It seems a little discriminatory to BLOCK them on weekend, from enjoying eateries, browsing, market..etc.
      The stats that are being collected ate somewhat slanted, biased.
      ” best figures all year” (?) This is not a normal year, almist since the beginning of the year.
      Winter weather limited traffic. Closed for months….. yrs..ppl will come out.
      In this adjustment to a New Norm it is understandable to include outside dining for “increased traffc” while the eateries have to limit their indoor seating, however. Yo make hewvruli ngs and cast them in stone is a reactionary step with bias.
      This plan needs much more consideration and stste collection over a greater period if time before new mandates are written.
      Possibly oned weekend day-to-day Sunday. And one weeknight, Thursday for the Art Walk. Then revisit again in fall.
      Therefore a n imbrrnof similar responses noted..
      We draw ppl to it’s an Edmonds kind of day. O v e r a l l .
      Not just Edmonds beer day
      Ppl different to sit outdoors in rain for a dinner nor do mostvwantfbtoo bake. 3pm suggestion is good compromise for the short-term

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  9. It’s pretty clear that the safest place to be right now is outdoors. The transmission of COVID-19 is extremely low when you are outdoors, especially when wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing and proper hand hygiene. I think it’s a shame to stop the plan now — especially on the holiday weekend.

    Here’s hoping the city figures this out and gets the streets opened up for pedestrians by July 11.

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  10. I brought my mom downtown for a visit to Revelations. She’s 82, with severe back pain and even using a walker is agonizing for her after short distances. Determined, we parked by the Civic offices and walked into the pedestrian only zone with several long breaks. She enjoyed her yogurt, which was a huge reward however, you see the problem. We loved the tables in the street, but it came at a cost for her.

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    1. Thank you Mayla. I agree. It is not right that even those who ate younger with AMBULATORY challenges should need yo increase med just enjoybtheurbtuwn and / or pay the physical, emotional price that comes with the walk.
      Distance in walking is always a subjective and relative consideration. Are we not an ” all inclusive ” town?

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  11. Fund and build a downtown parking garage. Some people live as far away as 8th ave. and are not able to walk to in town events but pay taxes. Who are these events for, People who live on Sunset?? Great idea but who is going to get to take advantage ??

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    1. Cost spot is very expensive, yet if we were to have one, a boutique lot at the old Baskin Robbins site may be ideal.

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      1. Alicia:

        It would have to be a relatively large lot in order to bring down the cost per stall (and thereby justify the overall cost), otherwise the fee per stall would have to be quite expensive. Beyond that, I just don’t know that the city is going to have the funds for this sort of project in the next few years going forward.

        Perhaps we could look at really maximizing the use of the available parking/parking space in and around the downtown (e.g. angled parking on some streets), or perhaps make another effort at finding an available trolley that would serve our community’s needs (as I understand it the reason that we don’t have a weekend trolley is that it has been hard to find one that is suitable).

        Whatever comes of the “rethink”, we do need to somehow make accessibility for people with limited mobility a real priority.

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  12. The obvious place for a parking lot/garage is where there is already a parking lot adjacent to the town central; the McMurray property. As Mike would be quick to point out to me and rightfully so, this is also very valuable commercial property and his to do with as he pleases within code. A parking lot/garage probably wouldn’t be a huge money maker or exciting business use for him to consider.

    The fact is, the City will very soon be scratching for every tax dollar it can muster, just to meet basic services, let alone build parking and parks (you notice Civic Park project is on hold). Unless the Federal Gov’t. provides huge relief to states and cities, those government entities will be operating under Depression conditions due to the virus. Hopefully a vaccine will save us from the worst economic scenarios. I think it would be wise to keep all these pedestrian downtown dreams temporary activities until all the ramifications of the Pandemic are known and accounted for.

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