After public outcry from business owners, First Weekends in Plattsburgh has officially moved off the streets. The event in August will instead be held at the nearby McDonough Monument Park/Band Stand.
The issue was brought forward by business owners, including Matt Spiegel. He owns the Naked Turtle restaurant in Plattsburgh. It's located on the waterfront, almost a mile from downtown.
So when First Weekends shuts down a major road, it affects his business.
“A lot of customers said, 'Geez, I had to go through the base to get here,’ explained Spiegel. “It definitely affected business where we saw a lot less customers."
When First Weekends launched last year, the City approved holding the event on City Hall Place. In turn, that closed it on the first Saturday of every month from April through November.
Closing the road means drivers have to make a big loop around downtown to get to the waterfront and Matt Spiegel's restaurant.
“Certainly when you close streets down it makes it difficult,” said Spiegel.
Spiegel was one of many business owners who complained to City Council. A heated debate followed between First Weekends organizer Tim McCormick and Plattsburgh Mayor James Calnon, who wanted the event moved.
“I think just really not good, quality communication back and forth,” said Mayor James Calnon (I/R Plattsburgh).
The issue was addressed before City Council resulting in First Weekends being moved to a green space by the waterfront for at least the next month.
In a statement, Tim McCormick said "Our August event will be held at the McDonough Monument Park/Band Stand and we as a group look forward to working with all interested parties."
Mayor Calnon thinks this will do more than just open up the road, but also attract more people to the event.
“Tourists that are in town can drive by and say 'Hey! There's something going on, let's stop!' That's the key, we want people to stop,” said Mayor Calnon.
Mayor Calnon and several business owners told us, they fully support First Weekends and if the event were to grow to a size that warranted the road closure, they would support that as well.
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