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Downtown business owners overwhelmingly rejected the closure of Washington Street for a pedestrian promenade.
Easton Mayor Robert Willey gave the town council a brief report Monday night about a meeting hosted July 23 by the Easton Economic Development Corporation.
About 70 people attended the meeting — half in person and half through videoconferencing, he said.
“The closure of Washington Street surprised many people because it was thoroughly rejected by most of the people there,” Willey said. “They didn’t want to have that street completely closed.”
Attendees supported the idea of “parklets” — blocking off parking spaces to provide for outdoor dining or other uses — but the closure of Washington Street was thoroughly rejected by most, he said.
Business owners also agreed that any plan that is developed should help all downtown businesses and not just restaurants, according to the mayor.
A formal report from the EEDC is expected before the next town council meeting, he said.
The town council voted Monday night to extend the weekend closures of parking spaces along Washington Street in front of the Washington Street Pub, Doc’s Downtown Grille, and Scossa Restaurant and Lounge, through Monday, Sept. 7, when the board next meets.
As business groups and the town consider options to increase activity downtown, a plan proposed decades ago by then town engineer has gained new life.
In a recent column in the Talbot Spy, Bob Greenlee suggested the time is right to develop the “Inner Courtyard,” the interior of the block surrounded by Washington, Goldsborough, Harrison, and Dover streets.
Bob Greenlee is the managing director and senior advisor in the Chesapeake office of SVN-Miller Commercial Real Estate and president of the Greenlee Group, specializing in asset management, valuation, and economic consulting.
“Bill Corkran was the first to promote this vision in the 1940’s and coined the phrase,” Greenlee wrote.
William H. Corkran Jr. was the town engineer of Easton from 1946 to 1976 and was instrumental in maintaining the town’s historic look.
“Mayor Willey has recently spearheaded a public/private partnership to dust off Mr. Corkran’s old plan, one that will hopefully include a strong retail partner and a commitment to high quality. If so, this is a concept that will define Easton’s Town Center for years to come….,” Greenlee wrote.
“Others have also stepped up recently, importantly including Matt and Peg Fitzgerald who bought the old Shannahan-Wrightson building (the birdcages), which has frontage on both Washington and Harrison Streets, and who are willing to cut through and open up the courtyard to Dover Street. Paul Prager is on board for Goldsborough Street.