By: Paul Feely, New Hampshire Union Leader
Citing the successful closure of a portion of Elm Street to vehicular traffic earlier this month in support of a taco-eating event, city aldermen will explore the possibility of closing Manchester’s “main street” more often in the future.
Alderman At Large Joe Kelly Levasseur raised the possibility under the “New Business” portion of Tuesday night’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen at City Hall.
“Today is one of the most exciting days as an alderman,” said Levasseur. “It’s always been a dream of mine to close Elm Street. It’s something I’ve been pushing quietly for a very long time, and I’m very surprised by a strong outpouring of support from the aldermen.”
On May 3, Elm Street was closed between Lake Avenue and Bridge Street from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. for an annual taco-eating event that regularly draws 20,000-plus people to the downtown area.
Levasseur said he would like to see Elm Street closed to vehicular traffic from West Merrimack Street to Lowell Street, to help attract people to local restaurants and businesses. Levasseur owns Theo’s Pizza Restaurant, located at 102 Elm St.
“The owners of the businesses downtown, these are literally the backbone of downtown,” said Levasseur. “The support we could give downtown by doing something dramatic ... maybe we could do something to compete with our sister city in Nashua, and show we are looking out for the businesses.”
Levasseur floated the idea of closing a section of Elm Street, possibly one day a week, possibly this summer or fall.
“Let’s see how it goes,” said Levasseur.
Mayor Joyce Craig expressed support for studying the idea, saying she “really liked” the idea.
“I know when you were an aldermen we talked about it a lot,” said Levasseur. “I’m really happy with the attitude of the whole board.”
“I appreciate your enthusiasm around this,” said Ward 3 Alderman Time Baines, owner of Mint Bistro restaurant on Elm Street.
A motion to send the idea to the Aldermanic Committee on Public Safety, Health & Traffic for further study was approved unanimously by board members.
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