CORNING, NY (WETM) – For months, business owners on Market Street have been asking the Gaffer District and the City Council if there were plans to close the street to car traffic like they did last summer.
When this was done last year, people were able to walk up and down the street to social distance, and restaurants were able to extend outdoor dining allowing them to serve more people.
This received mixed reviews. Many bars, restaurants, and other shops were in favor of the closure. It was a safe way to serve more people, and the atmosphere was pleasant. But those opposed complained about the lack of street parking and that it hurt their business.
Thursday the Corning’s Gaffer District announced that they will be hosting a “Rediscover Corning” event for the 4th of July holiday weekend. If approved by Corning City Council, the event will include a pedestrian-only use of Market Street from 6 a.m. on Thursday, July 1, until 8 a.m. on Tuesday, July 6. No other pedestrian-only use of the street will be requested this summer.
Vinne Azzarelli, Owners of Volo bar, has been vocal about his strong support to close the street again. He even created a petition that generated over 2,000 signatures in favor of closing the street. He is disappointed to hear about the “Rediscovering Event.”
“As a business owner and resident, I am kind of disappointed and deeply saddened, to be honest with you. The disconcert our leaders have from what our community wants and needs,” Azzarelli said.
Ben Borkowski, Owners of Marich Music, which is also on Market Street a few doors down from Volo. Borkowski was not a fan of the street being closed last year. He said that because of the lack of street parking, he lost business. But, despite how it affects his shop, he also wants to support the local restaurants.
“Although I am relieved that the street isn’t going to be closed for weeks on end, and 24/7, all summer,” Borkowski said. “I am a little disappointed that there wasn’t maybe a little bit more compromise that was still beneficial.”
“This summer is not last summer,” said Rick Maxa, board president. “We are no longer under a lockdown and more and more restrictions are being lifted. Therefore, our board no longer saw the need for a longer-term limit of vehicles on the street and we had to consider the interests of all of our more than 240 businesses. However, we do want to have a community celebration to observe the light at the end of a very long pandemic tunnel.”
Maxa said the Gaffer District hopes locals and visitors will take advantage of the long holiday weekend to visit, shop and eat downtown.
Maxa cited research which factored into the decision that showed the 4th of July weekend as the busiest summer visitor weekend for the city. It also promises this year to be a nationwide turning point in the COVID battle.
Executive Director Coleen Fabrizi added, “Corning’s Gaffer District is very excited to be producing the ‘Rediscover Corning’ event for the 4th of July weekend. This is in addition to the plans we already have for GlassFest Fusion May 24-30, which will kick off the Summer in Downtown series, including Farmers Market, Storytime, picnics in the park, pop-up entertainment and a variety of cross-promotions with participating retail, restaurants and personal care providers in our downtown. Our businesses are ready to welcome consumers to enjoy our downtown whether they are shopping, dining, exploring or just making a great memory as they stroll along our beautiful streetscapes.”
To find out more about all events in downtown Corning, visit gafferdistrict.com.