Circuit, Kennebec avenues get Sunday closure

In a move to help downtown businesses, selectmen test the waters with pedestrian-only traffic.

Oak Bluffs selectmen have agreed to close Circuit Ave. on Sundays. - Lucas Thors

Updated June 17

Oak Bluffs selectmen voted to block Circuit Avenue and Kennebec Avenue from vehicle traffic on Sundays from 10 am to 10 pm, to allow restaurants and retail shops to use sidewalk and street space.

The Sunday street closures will begin June 21 and end on Sept. 6, giving already struggling businesses a new outlet to serve customers. Businesses on both streets will be able to use up to seven feet of space in front of their businesses to place tables for retail or outdoor dining.

“That’s what we’re asking you all to do, is to think outside the box for a minute and help us get to the finish line,” Larkin Stallings, Ritz owner and street closure advocate, said. 

After weighing options on timing, selectmen stuck with the 10 am to 10 pm closure. Police Sgt. Michael Marchand said logistically, having a street closure at 10 am would actually begin at 8:30 am, as police blocked off the streets and waited for any remaining parked cars to move.

Signage will also be created to notify people of the Sunday street closures.

Erin Tiernan, who owns Basics and was another advocate for the closure, said one of the keys to success was allowing retail to be included.

While there was plenty of support for the project, others said barring cars and parking from the street would hurt their businesses.

Tim Doble, co-owner of Mocha Mott’s, told selectmen the street closure would significantly hurt his coffee shop, and asked that it be pushed back an hour, but selectmen stuck to 10 am. “This proposal is a loser for us. Our business is an in-and-out business. We rely on the parking spots and the people coming in and out quickly,” Doble said. “It will definitely negatively impact our business.”

Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association executive director CJ Rivard expressed concerns of Campground residents and visitors, particularly with noise, parking, and traffic flow.

“There were issues last year with windows being open and the inside noise going outside,” Rivard said. “Cars that drive up that street have to go somewhere.”

Phillip’s Hardware and Reliable Market were opposed to the original proposal to close the street for the whole weekend, but are in support of the Sunday only closure.

The decision is an experimental one, that selectmen said they would monitor each week and alter depending on how the street closure works out.

“We can always tweak this, it’s one day out of the week,” selectman Greg Coogan said. “We’re trying to do something to keep commerce on those streets.”

Oak Bluffs Association Christine Todd said she was proud to be from Oak Bluffs, and was happy with how so many businesses came together. “We’re trying to have a chance to see what we can do as a community,” Todd said.

The street closure approval came after the town approved Dos Mas, MV Salads, and Red Cat, among others, for outdoor dining on their properties.

Selectmen also approved a request from the YMCA and the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival to hold four drive-in movie screenings a week in the parking lot at the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena.

The parking lot can accommodate 40 to 50 vehicles, and all movies will be family-friendly. Screenings will run from July through August.

 

Updated to show Phillip’s Hardware and Reliable Markets support for Sunday street closures. — Ed.

17 COMMENTS

  1. 4 movie screenings a week? seems like a bit much
    At least the parking lot at the ice rink will get used
    So who gets the proceeds? Ice arena, YMCA, or film festival

  2. Leave it to the MVCMA to complain about traffic on circuit ave, or NO traffic on circuit ave

    • people will think that since circuit is closed they’ll just park in the campground lots instead. you can volunteer your driveway for use instead

  3. This will be an interesting and exciting experience. I hope it works out for everyone!

    Mocha Motts – Hang in there. I think if you start offering breakfast sandwiches & burritos again it will help your business. Just have customers call it in ahead of time so they don’t have to wait and gather at the pick up spot. Best of luck!

  4. From the comments this appears to help some and hurt others. But trying it out seems sensible because though not perfect it might help overall and these are unprecedented times. That being said there is the potential to spread the virus with this plan and it would be wise to allow entry only to those who pass a temperature screening and wear face masks with strict enforcement. It pains me to bring this up as our officials and the press should have added this to the proposal and article. Running this willy-nilly could be fatal.

  5. If they don’t already have it, maybe Motts can look into online ordering. That seems to be working out well for other places.

    My concern about this decision is for those with mobility issues who need to park really close.

  6. Maybe it will help thin out the crowds at Nancy’s where it didn’t appear that anyone cared about masks. I can’t believe our selectmen approved this ridiculous idea.

  7. Fantastic idea! Abolish social distancing for one day a week! How soon to Phase #2 – abolish social distancing for two days a week?

  8. I’ve got a solution for the naysayers. Stay away from OB on Sundays and go dining in the middle of Main Street, EDG instead.

  9. Both Reliable and Philips Hardware are in support of the closure of Circuit Ave. and a portion of Kennebeck Ave. on Sundays from 10:AM – 10:00PM! The initial proposal was to close Thurs.,Fri. nights and all day Saturday and Sunday. Everyone has worked together to come up with a plan that can, hopefully, help the collective group of restaurants and retailers alike. I thank them, and everyone else, for the spirit of support, cooperation, collaboration and compassion that has been demonstrated. Hats off to everyone!!!

    • Several people on here have said that Reliable and Phillips do not want the street closures.
      Are they wrong?

    • Re. Reliable and Phillips Hardware . . . from the article: “Phillip’s Hardware and Reliable Market both expressed their opposition at the selectmen’s last meeting.”

  10. C Todd remarked she was happy to be from OB? really? She’s the business assocations paid rep. Give me a break.

    • Really Akin plus C Todd is a wash-a-shore — C Todd remarked she was happy to be from OB. — Give me a break!!

  11. Both Reliable and Phillips were not pleased with the initially proposed Saturday closure. Like many others, they are accepting of a Sunday closure with the hopes it will help other businesses survive. This is a community effort.

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