Berlin Merchants Seek Road Closure Extension For Special Events

Berlin Merchants Seek Road Closure Extension For Special Events
Rather than blocked at Jefferson and Main streets, some Berlin merchants would like to see the special event street closures moved to the south so their businesses are not blocked off. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

BERLIN –  Merchants at the south end of Main Street are hoping to see special event road closures extend past their shops next year.

As special events for 2020 go to the town council for approval this month, merchants south of Jefferson Street are hopeful that officials will agree to include their portion of Main Street in any road closures.

“We’ll never know unless we try,” Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells said.

During special events, such as the recent Fiddlers Convention, Main Street is closed to vehicle traffic.  Typically, barricades marking the closure are placed near the intersection of West and Main streets, Gay and Broad streets and near the intersection of Jefferson and Main streets. Business owners whose shops are located beyond the southern barricade would like to see the street closure extended past its current location.

“It would extend the (foot) traffic down our way,” said Brenda Malone, whose shop is at 10 S. Main Street. “When the barricade’s up people think that’s the end.”

Neighboring merchant Ruth Koontz agreed and said she’d lobbied for extending the street closure in years past. She says attendees see the barricade and the signs prohibiting alcohol past that point and don’t go any farther.

“We called it the great wall of Berlin and we’re on the wrong side,” Koontz said.

While that section of the street was full of service businesses several years ago, now that it’s primarily retail Koontz is hopeful officials will reconsider the placement of the barricade. Wells agreed.

“We’ve been talking about this for a number of years,” she said. “It’ll definitely help the businesses out.”

She added, however, that public safety officials and Maryland’s State Highway Administration (SHA) would determine whether the closure could be extended.

“Ultimately it’s not my decision,” Wells said.

Police Chief Arnold Downing said this week the street closure had not been extended previously because of SHA concerns. He said moving the barricade farther south would create more dead ends and impede more traffic. He added that it would also eliminate more parking spaces.

“It causes a lot more issues,” he said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.