The city and downtown merchants need to find some balance.
City officials recently asked two downtown merchants to remove items displayed on Main Street sidewalks saying the items make it difficult for pedestrians to pass.
We don’t doubt that occasionally the stores get out of hand – occasionally dragging large tables outside and displaying, for example, thousands of record albums.
However, we fail to see how businesses displaying one or two things is a cause for concern.
For a store like Swap-n-Shop and the antique store downtown, putting a few items on the sidewalk each day is a way to let customers know what’s available inside. It’s simply vital to those kinds of businesses.
Meanwhile, the life-size Superman statue, which used to grace the sidewalk in front of JW Games and Video, added a little bit of personality to downtown. We don’t believe it was an undue burden for pedestrians.
Frankly, we miss looking out our window and seeing him there.
All of the downtown businesses remove their wares from the sidewalks when they close up shop in the evening.
We also have concerns that city code enforcement is awfully selective. It would help if they kept a record of complaints, especially when the complaints are about local businesses.
For the last several years, there has been much talk about sidewalk signs and displays. To us it seems like much ado about nothing.
For a city in desperate need of the revenues provided by sales taxes and the growth provided by new businesses, it seems like a no-brainer to give the existing businesses a little bit of latitude to draw in customers.
After all, public right-of-ways are partially owned by the businesses themselves.