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Streetfest to hit pavement

By Staff | Feb 18, 2011

Tuesday the Shepherdstown Town Council approved the return of Streetfest and heard requests from other residents and businesses interested in having events this summer.

In a special meeting held Feb. 15 at the Entler Hotel, Mayor Jim Auxer and the six-member council heard presentations from the Streetfest Committee as well as three other groups interested in holding outdoor events in town.

Ashbury Methodist Church requested approval to throw a “Back to School Block Party” on Aug. 20. Representatives from Craftworks proposed a two-day “Chalk Art” fundraising event, and the town heard and approved the traditional Independence Day parade held along German Street each year.

The organizers of Streetfest presented an overview of their plans for their event this year, which is slated to include multiple vendors, live music, food and beverage and various activities.

The group requested the suspension of the noise ordinance; the open container law, to facilitate the use of a “beer garden;” and the approval of an extra block of street for the event this year.

Chris Stroech, an area attorney who spoke on behalf of the group, said that the team has met with the Shepherdstown Business Association and took an “informal survey” of most businesses impacted by the event, finding them largely in support of the return of Streetfest.

Stroech encouraged any feedback from concerned citizens and the council regarding the feasibility of the event.

“Productive discussion would be helpful,” he said.

Councilor Bane Schill raised concerns about state law prohibiting the closing of state streets, which he said is an issue the Department of Transportation has become “more stringent” about recently. He cautioned the group that the state’s preference is to keep streets open whenever possible and requires an organized management of traffic redirection and proper directional signage in cases where streets must be blocked.

“Whoever blocks the street inherits any liability,” he said

The Streefest team wants to use the space from Church to Princess Streets, King Street to Queen’s Alley and King to New Streets.

Councilor David Rosen worried about the council’s willingness to close the main street for multiple events. He urged the council to be mindful of the impact closing German Street may have on local businesses in what he called a “struggling economy.”

Brian Kelly, who owns Kelly’s Fly Shop, contended that while events like Streetfest may not be great for all businesses, all businesses should support any event that helps any town commerce.

“Streetfest is one of the best days of the year for me,” he said

The council unanimously voted to approve Streetfest and the Independence Day parade pending a discussion with the Department of Transportation to take place prior to the next council meeting.

The council also approved the “Back to School Block Party,” which will be held on King Street. The “Chalk Art” event was approved as well and is slated to take place in multiple locations around town including Rumsey Monument Park, pending the completion of construction work taking place there.

The next town council meeting is scheduled for March 8.