New Paltz considers closing Church St. on Sunday afternoons this summer

Church Street off of Main Street in New Paltz. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Business owners and residents of lower Church Street in New Paltz are largely supportive of closing the block nearest Main Street Sunday afternoons this summer, if those who showed up to talk to village trustees on April 12 are any indication. The dates trustees have in mind are Sundays from June 1 to August 31. Jacob Farber, co-owner of Commissary, imagined it would increase foot traffic near his shop, and suggested it could also be a new home for the now-nomadic farmer’s market. Barner Books owner David Friedman said he’s seen “incredible growth” in foot traffic when the street is closed for events. The closed section actually starts at Barner Books, to allow access to the small parking lot adjacent the Main Street Bistro.

Even with the groundswell of support, Mayor Tim Rogers said he recognizes the need to designate a manager for the weekly event. Not everything ran entirely smoothly during the test closures last year; a band that performed one weekend was widely regarded as being too loud, with one restaurateur claiming all of his reservations that evening were cancelled as a result. Rogers suggested hiring former trustee Ariana Basco for that job, since she has experience organizing farmers’ markets and expressed an interest in doing so on Church Street, as Farber suggested. Rogers speculated that a fee charged to vendors could be used to pay a manager.

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Jordan Schor, who told trustees about losing reservations at his End Cut restaurant, characterized the three closures last summer as an “absolute disaster” due to the lack of a point person. He opined that if music is possible, it must be “all or nothing” in terms of volume, and asked about the types of vendors which might be allowed to participate in the market. Schor’s concern was that  there was the possibility of additional competition for some business owners. He also said that despite impressions made at the meeting, not every business owner supports the closures. He singled out Krause’s Chocolates and the flower shop as having owners opposed to the idea, and added that he was “on the fence” about trying it again, because with “no one in charge, it’s anarchy.” A manager such as Rogers proposed might mitigate those concerns.

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