“Unsurprisingly, the street closure survey did not demonstrate a clear consensus among businesses; however, it did highlight the various…” said city manager Jon Jennings to Exchange Street business owners in a letter emailed to them on August 4, 2020. However, that inconclusive result to an unscientific survey did not prevent Jennings from stating: “At this time, we plan to maintain the closure of Exchange Street,” (in bold letters).
But, the results of the Exchange Street Business Owners Survey did not include pertinent information such as: how many surveys were sent out, how many responses were received, how many were from retailers and how many were from restaurant owners? That lack of basic information and much more calls into question the creditability and veracity of the survey and therefore Jennings’ conclusion.
Last month, the Economic Development office at city hall, directed by Greg Mitchell, but run by Jennings, issued a survey to some of the businesses (don’t know how many) affected by its vehicular ban on Exchange Street. (The Paper Patch, 21 Exchange Street, did not receive a survey until the day of the deadline. Maybe the city knew of his opposition to the car ban and didn’t want to include it in the survey)? Justin Costa, chair of the Economic Development Committee, supported the ban on vehicular traffic on Exchange Street and elsewhere despite the city’s little advance public notice, saying something like we won’t know if this is a good idea unless we try it. Mhn.com has why did not the City survey or consult with businesses on Exchange Street before sneaking this ban on cars into place? No response.
Maybe because this shutdown of car traffic Exchange Street advances the city’s long standing commitment to making Portland a walkable city. Doesn’t matter what the facts are, apparently. Doesn’t matter what the retail businesses say.
However, numerous retailers on lower Exchange Street, who outnumber restaurants in the area, are not happy with the Costa Committee decision directed by Jon Jennings. It is not possible for most Exchange Street retailers to sell their jewelry, souvenirs, clothing, high and low end gifts, paper products and more on Exchange Street in the outdoors, for obvious reasons. One owner, Renee, of a retail business suggested to the city, that Exchange Street be shutdown to vehicular traffic starting at or around 5:00 pm. That would permit restaurants to open on the street in the evening hours and permit daytime traffic to flow for small businesses during the day time. Renee said the city’s response was police, but not interested. This is the way it is was the city’s response.
The Paper Patch, 21 Exchange Street, announced on July 20, that it is closing its 51 year old business in September. The reason given by Rob Sevigny, the fourth owner, is the lack of parking available to his customers. This Street used to be a vibrant retail space, but the city has turned it into a dog park, he said on July 20, 2020, in a previous post that can be found herein.
This should not become the equivalent to the First Friday Art Walk that sells home-made art work.