Archive for Wednesday, June 8, 2011

City Commission OKs closing part of Mass. St. for car show

June 8, 2011


It will be a hot rod show and probably the subject of hot debate.

City commissioners on Tuesday night agreed to close down the portion of Massachusetts Street that runs through South Park on Oct. 8 for the Rev it Up! Hot Rod Hullaballoo, which will serve as a fundraiser for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

Commissioners approved the closing on a 3-2 vote despite Downtown Lawrence Inc. formally objecting to the plan, citing concerns that closing the street on a Saturday would make it difficult for shoppers to get downtown.

But supporters of the event, which is expected to raise $5,000 to $10,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters, argued the event would bring new people to downtown, who likely would stay most of the day and into the evening.

Narrowly, that argument won the day at City Hall. Mayor Aron Cromwell and Commissioners Hugh Carter and Mike Dever supported the proposal.

“My gut just tells me that events like this are good for downtown,” Dever said.

Dever and Carter also said they were underwhelmed by information presented by Downtown Lawrence Inc. that recommended against the street closure. Both Carter and Dever noted that a representative with Big Brothers Big Sisters received signatures of support for the event from 22 of the 25 downtown businesses that it approached. Downtown Lawrence Inc., Carter and Dever noted, didn’t do a full survey of its membership.

“I would like to hear from more than just a few downtown merchants say they are against this,” Carter said.

Commissioner Mike Amyx and Bob Schumm, who both own businesses on Massachusetts Street, voted against the street closure.

“Unless these events really, really work and bring in a lot of people, it is hard to capture the amount of money these businesses lose by having the street closed on a Saturday,” said Amyx, who owns a barber shop.

Both Amyx and Schumm — and Downtown Lawrence Inc. — said they would be more supportive of the request if the event were for a Sunday. But Stephen Chronister, an organizer of the event, said they feared moving the event to a Sunday would greatly reduce the number of car owners who would participate.


Bob Forer 7 years ago

One would think that merchants would encourage events like this, which bring large crowds to the downtown area. ...... Those downtown merchants sure are fickle.

tufoak 7 years ago

I'm going but i'm going to be thinking about spending my money downtown they don't seem to have a problem with other events like for gay prades

make_a_difference 7 years ago

The reasoning behind the objection of the Lawrence Downtown, Inc just doesn't make sense to me. Closing Mass. Street between 11th & 13th Streets still leaves plenty of access to the downtown area. On the west, turning right off of Kentucky street on any street between 11th & 6th streets will take a person directly downtown. On the east, New Hampshire & Connecticut streets provide easy access to a number of east/west streets that also will take a person directly downtown. Coming across the bridge from the north? Well...there's Vermont street directly ahead...which also accesses east/west streets that will take you directly downtown. Just where is the difficulty getting downtown here? stands to reason that this event will draw people who otherwise wouldn't be in downtown Lawrence. And it's likely these people will take time to venture into the actual downtown enjoy themselves and possibly spend money. At the very least this event will raise much needed funds for a worthy cause. It will also provide an enjoyable venue for car enthusiasts. Both of which can bring about positive feelings towards Lawrences' downtown community. Which brings the opportunity for increased business for our downtown merchants, either on that day or on future days.

Again...the objection makes no sense to me.

make_a_difference 7 years ago

It's not like Mass. Street will be closed 6th thru 13th streets. Now THAT would make access difficult. :-)

Though not impossible if one really wanted to get downtown :-)

Armored_One 7 years ago

Imagine that...

The two dissenting votes being those that have businesses downtown, one of those businesses not being a real high priority for a car show, namely the barber shop.

I'm willing to bet that the eateries downtown will definately have a higher influx of people, especially places like Papa Keno's and Buffal Wild Wings. Maybe that's part of why Schumm wasn't thrilled at the prospect. His business is at the far end of downtown, comparative to where this car show will be held.

Besides, it's for one day, from what I read in the article. If your business can't survive for one day on lower income, then maybe you have bigger problems than just that one day. I will admit that parking will likely become an issue, unless the city opens up the garage, fully and completely, so that people attending the carshow have a place to park without filling up downtown.

CreatureComforts 7 years ago

Never been sold on Papa Keno's. I personally avoid it...not sure what the big fuss is myself.

somebodynew 7 years ago

"Both Carter and Dever noted that a representative with Big Brothers Big Sisters received signatures of support for the event from 22 of the 25 downtown businesses that it approached. Downtown Lawrence Inc., Carter and Dever noted, didn’t do a full survey of its membership. "

Doesn't sound like ALL of the downtown merchants were against this and gee...DLI did not do the proper homework. Who wouda thunk that?????

I am guessing that Amyx and Schumm were just going with DLI since they are members. I would hope both of them would not be that stupid on their own. I really believe sometimes DLI is downtown's worst problem.

whitecho 7 years ago

It's a pretty wide street. Perhaps close half of it & use the other half for traffic. Just a thought.

jhawkinsf 7 years ago

It's events like this that bring me downtown. Art in the Park, parades, band concerts. Love 'em.

grimpeur 7 years ago

The problem is that if there is even the tiniest perception that shoppers may not get a spot to park their cars within 10 feet of any retail door they want, they just throw up their hands and say, "Oh! Woe is me! I might have to walk a block or three!" The problem is not that the street is closed. The problem is the sacred cow of personal autos, that people claim to have difficulty getting downtown and parking, and that the slightest restriction on automobile usage causes such wailing.

How can you shop on Mass if you can't park on Mass? Easy.

You park a block away and walk.

jesse499 7 years ago

If you want to see what a car show like this will do just ask Ottawa they have been doing one for years and loving it .Of course there a 2nd class city that doesn't have its nose in the air like Lawrence does most of the time over things like this.You know like car shows .country Music concerts and so on yuc.

irvan moore 7 years ago

mr. amyx and mr. schumm should realize that just because an event doesn't benefit their business doesn't mean that it's bad for Lawrence. they are supposed to represent all of us in this community, not just the interests of downtown.

CreatureComforts 7 years ago

I really don't see what all the hullaballoo is about.

jesse499 7 years ago

Amen And its not like there's not 15 or 20 other ways into downtown if you want to get there that one or two blocks is not going stop you.

William McCauley 7 years ago

I think you have it all wrong here, ol one eye... ya see Mike & Bob have both been around awhile as you know, these cats both know it would be so much hassle to jump through the city's hoops in order to sell at the part..... They know you would have to file a site plan and have it approved by the panning commission, pay a fee to parks & rec to reserve a spot, get a special use permit approved and pay a fee for a license, get health dept inspection to name a few....... with it being that big of a PITA who would really want too.... lol

Bob Forer 7 years ago

Mike Amyx is a hypocritical, intellectually dishonest slug. He has stated he will not vote on the Olive Garden proposal because his parents sold one of the four lots in the deal to the developer, and therefore has a conflict of interest. The conflict is tenuous, as the deal between the developer and his parents was consummated some time ago. His downtown barbershop ownership is much more clearly a conflict of interest, yet he sees fit to vote on whether Mass Street should be closed for the car show. A real piece of work, that Amyx, if you ask mer.

slowplay 7 years ago

22 of 25 downtown businesses gave their support. What's the issue?

somebodynew 7 years ago

To me another example of why we need to change the antiquated system of commissioners. We need to add a couple more and have them elected by districts or divisions of the City. Let us start have all areas of town represented, so that when (if in the case of Lawrence) you vote, you are voting so that your area has a representative that (hopefully) will balance your area's need with the overall City.

Also I am beginning to think that people who live close to the City's limits should have a say. There have been several decisions about annexing land and developement proprosals that wind up in front of the City Commission and we don't have a say as to who is on the Commission.

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