Village experiment, July 29, 2020

Shoppers stroll down Pine Knot Avenue July 25, taking advantage of the extra room from the road closure.

On Thursday, July 30, the matter of a trial closure of the Village streets will once again be before the Big Bear Lake City Council.

The council called a special meeting to review the first trial closure on July 25 and 26, and the results of a Chamber survey regarding the closure. The council will discuss those items and the recommendation of City Manager Frank Rush then decide if the streets will be closed again this coming weekend.

The trial closure is in response to the need for more social distancing due to COVID-19 and the governor’s mandate that closed indoor dining to prevent the spead of the coronavirus. The closure creates a pedestrian walkway in the street on Pine Knot and allows businesses, restaurants and retail shops, to expand operations to sidewalks and parking spaces.

Rush is recommending the trial closure be conducted on Saturday only Aug. 1 and Aug. 8. Pine Knot Avenue would be closed to vehicular traffic between Village Drive and Stone Road and select parking spots on Village Drive closed to allow business to expand operations into the parking spots. The street would remain open to motorized traffic.

Rush’s recommendation would be to close parking spots on the north side of Village Drive between Bartlett Road and Cottage Lane and on the south side between Pine Knot Avenue and Stocker Road. This would allow those businesses that participated in the inaugural trial and used the parking spaces to continue to do so.

Based on comments and observations during the first trial closure, Rush is recommending the Saturday only closure from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. He told The Grizzly on July 27 that Saturday seemed to be the busier day and Sunday’s closure might not be necessary.

By continuing the trial for two more weekends, it will provide a better sampling of the success of the closure. The City Council meets Aug. 10 for its regular meeting and can make a more informed decision at that time regarding whether to continue the program during the COVID-19 pandemic or to return to open streets.

The survey, which was conducted by the Big Bear Chamber of Commerce using Survey Monkey, asked Village businesses 10 questions regarding the trial. A majority said the initial closure July 25 and 26 was successful. One question asked if the program were continued should it be limited to a Saturday only closure. The results were overwhelmingly against a Saturday only closure. However, the comments associated with the answer were all over the place with some saying don’t close streets at all, others saying Friday-Sunday, and others saying both days.

The meeting is at 2 p.m. in the training room at Big Bear Lake City Hall. The meeting is open to the public. Masks and social distancing are required. The meeting will not be broadcast nor streamed on the city’s website.

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