Upper Main Street redesign to be dismantled following mixed feedback

  • Volunteers were busy helping to paint murals onto the pavement of upper Main Street in Northampton on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020, as part of the Shared Streets and Spaces program modifications.   GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 9/11/2020 4:58:20 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The temporary redesign to upper Main Street will be dismantled early next week, Mayor David Narkewicz announced Friday.

The grant-funded project included narrowing upper Main Street to one traffic lane in each direction to make way for protected bike lanes and expanded open space to bring more people downtown.

“While I am confident that this effort was beginning to have its intended effect, some 55 downtown business owners have expressed opposition to the project and asked that it be removed,” Narkewicz said in a statement Friday.

He continued, “Since supporting our vital local businesses and economic recovery was the central goal of this project, I have decided to act quickly on the mixed and negative feedback the installation has received from downtown businesses. The debate itself is bad for business, and my love for Northampton far outweighs any desire I have to defend this idea.”

The announcement came a day after Narkewicz held a town hall to talk about the redesign. More than 50 businesses signed a petition to reverse the changes, citing problems such as less available parking and a lack of communication from the city. Petitions signed by residents both supporting and opposing the project also have circulated online.

Temporary changes to lower Main Street, Masonic Street, Market Street, Pearl Street and Strong Avenue, which were put in before the recent changes to upper Main Street, will remain.

“We have received overwhelming testimony from businesses in these areas that our efforts to support outdoor dining and space in the public way has helped them survive the current economic environment,” Narkewicz said in the statement.

Parking will be banned on Main Street from the intersection of Old South Street and State Street to the intersection of King Street and Pleasant Street from Monday at 9 p.m. to Tuesday at 6 a.m. so that the redesign can be undone.

“DPW [Department of Public Works] crews will remove barriers, planters, signage and temporary taping to restore the street to its original configuration prior to the August 20, 2020 installation,” the statement said.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.


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