“I see this as a strong plan, a good plan,” she said of the original plan for a larger bump-out. “... A lot of thought went into it.”
She lamented the “Indianapolis” traffic hurrying through and pedestrians “playing chicken” against it. In addition, she noted that eight spaces in total have been lost. Putting back just two “is not going to suffice. So where do we stop?”
But Councilor Barry Sinewitz, who also had a downtown business, expressed sympathy for Main Street retailers. “I never supported this to begin with, and this is one of the things I warned about. ... Business fought for a handful of spaces and we’ve just eliminated two of them.”
Arthur Athas, who represents the downtown ward, stressed that businesses need parking, and he minimized the change.
“The bump-outs are still there,” he said. “We’re talking about a 60-foot bump-out as compared to a 20-foot bump-out. ... The overall plan is to make things better. Why would you not want to make things better?”
Bettencourt cited Teresa’s Crafter’s Boutique and Pat’s Discount as two retailers suffering with the loss of parking. Three business people looked on as the matter was debated, including downtown real estate agent Arthur Gordon.
The change was approved by a vote of 6 to 4, with Councilors Jim Liacos, Dave Gravel, Barry Osborne and Anne Manning Martin voting against it. Councilor Bob Driscoll was absent.
“In the future,” said Athas, “we’re going to have to look at some parking for the downtown. ... some kind of parking area.”
Speaking after the vote, Bettencourt agreed. He downplayed it as “a minor change” meant to help small businesses.
“The hope is that this project is going to be the start of the revitalization of the downtown,” he said.