NORWAY — The Board of Selectmen will hold a public meeting Dec. 16 to consider a request from Norway Arts Festival officials to close Main Street on July 9.
Last year, for the first time, the board approved closing the street to vehicle traffic from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. the day of the sidewalk art displays. This year, festival officials are asking it be closed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“That's when the artists are setting up on the street. It's a little nerve wracking when cars go by,” said festival organizer Brenda Melhus, who made the request at Thursday's board meeting. The board approved the application for an outdoor festival license.
The street closure was proposed by the festival committee for the safety of people who must walk in the street to get around the art displays.
An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people attend the art show, which is the last day of the three-day Norway Arts Festival sponsored by the Norway Downtown and the Western Maine Art Group. Art work is exhibited along Main Street sidewalks from Lynn Street/Greenleaf Avenue to Whitman Street and Pikes Hill.
Melhus said the organizers are requesting an extra two hours because the artists begin to set up their tents about 7 a.m. and are removing them until about 5 p.m. Although last year it rained on the arts festival for the first time and some artists left, Melhus said all artists will be required to stay on site, even if it rains.
The move to close a portion of Main Street, which is a state road, has been under discussion for the past several years for safety reasons, but it was not until last year that the state Department of Transportation finally told the town they would not allow the closure.
State officials advised town officials they could exercise their police powers to reroute traffic as long as it maintained a minimal disruption.
The public hearing will allow residents and business owners to express concerns about the street closure before th Board of Selectmen vote on the request.