By Mike Kruzman /

Brighton City Council has listened to frustrated business owners and is re-opening Main Street to vehicle traffic for the majority of weekends, immediately.

Beginning immediately, Main Street will be open to vehicles all of Friday and following the closure of the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. It will remain closed during the times of the Farmer’s Market.

At Thursday night’s online meeting of City Council, officials heard some several merchants who have been negatively impacted by the summer closure of Main Street to cars on Fridays and Saturdays. Many said they were taken by surprise and only learned a couple days in advance. This created additional hardships as they were just coming off of being closed for 2 months at the beginning of the pandemic. Several were also frustrated with a lack of communication between the City and businesses.

Ken Larscheid is the owner of Running Lab and said downtown looks closed on the weekends. He said they didn’t know about the closure until a day or two before it happened and were challenged to make it work in a time when many were only recently allowed to reopen.

Mark and Barbara Binkley own a couple of businesses downtown and said that after 2pm on Friday Brighton becomes a ghost town. Mark said that the on July 24-25 Main Street wasn’t closed because of storms, and that was their busiest weekend in months.

Natural View Market owner Karen Hummer shared in the frustrations. She asked, “Who thinks this worked?” Hummer said she has several photographs taken by her employees on Fridays and Saturdays showing empty streets. She told council that “empty streets are not success.” Councilman Jon Emaus said later, during discussion that he has gotten pictures of empty Main Street and full Main Street.

The owner of Oh My Lolli applauded the city for trying to evolve and adapt, but also asked that they reconsider because it just wasn’t working.

Colin from Artisan’s Bench said it wasn’t until he started walking door-to-door to get a pulse, that he discovered many business owners were under the impression that they were the only ones struggling, when in fact, they weren’t alone.

The one time it does appear work is during the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market, but once that is over, businesses reported that foot traffic dropped drastically.

City Manager Nate Geinzer said they appreciate the feedback and that they’ve heard it the whole time. This gathered mix response from councilmembers, some of which seemed to not know of the struggles until very recently. Councilwoman Renee Pettingill said she had not been aware of the feedback. Pettengill said she recently hit the streets and was disappointed in hearing how hard this was hitting merchants. Councilman Jim Bohn said he believed merchants were on board with this, but is learning now that that’s not the case. Mayor Shawn Pipoly came to the defense of Geinzer and his staff, saying they did what they believed they were supposed to be doing, and right or wrong, he commends them for trying to make stuff happen.

Emaus said that once the pandemic hit, their intent has always been to balance the public health of residents and support the health of the local economy. He said the subcommittee had heard about the emails, and that they had also heard overwhelmingly from residents that they were in full support of this policy. He asked that people please know that this wasn’t something that was shoved down the throats of local businesses without due consideration.

Councilman Jim Muzzin asked that if people feel their issues aren’t being addressed, then they should contact City Council members personally by email or phone. That contact information for each is available on the City’s website. This sentiment was echoed by others on Council.

Picture courtesy of Google Street View