LISBON — The Lisbon Town Council has approved a plan for closing a 4,000-square-foot stretch of lower Main Street this summer that aims to tackle concerns raised by business owners.

The plan for the section of Main Street dubbed “Moxie Plaza” is designed to address problems identified following a similar closure last summer. The closures were developed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic to draw more foot traffic and encourage outdoor dining and community events.

Brett Richardson, the town’s economic and community development director, reviewed the plan at the Feb. 16 council meeting.

Richardson said the town plans to put more signs around town to help attract more of the vehicles on Route 196 to Main Street. The town also will keep Main Street visible to Route 196 traffic instead of blocking the view as it did last summer.

Prior to the pandemic, Richardson said there were more than 15,000 cars on Route 196 daily compared to 6,000 cars on Route 9, and 3,000 cars on Main Street according to Maine Department of Transportation traffic counts.

Richardson said the plan also provides 35 more parking spaces in close proximity to Main Street businesses with designated employee parking further away.

The town is creating a calendar of events for Moxie Plaza and the town to attract people to the Main Street area. The town is hiring an event coordinator to work on tailored events for individual businesses and to market them.

With other area communities canceling events like Bath Heritage Days festival and the Yarmouth Clam Festival, “People are going to be looking for things to do,” Richardson said.

The plan also lowers 90-day vendor license fees to $25. This will provide a lot of people an opportunity to come to Main Street, Richardson said, following complaints that vendor fees last summer were too expensive.

Laura Ingerson owns a business on Main Street and questioned how businesses will thrive with Main Street closed.

“I, as a business owner, can say that our emails and concerns are going unheard,” she wrote in a Feb. 16 email to the council.

Fern Larochelle is the lone councilor who opposed the vote on the Main Street closure plan on Feb. 16.

“My biggest concern is not all businesses on Main Street are on board with the closure and I just don’t know if every avenue has been looked at to actually make it work for everybody and that was my biggest concern,” Larcohelle said Monday.

It’s a plan that Positive Change Lisbon, a Lisbon business advocacy group, hasn’t taken a stance on yet, according to Ross Cunningham, the organization’s president.

“I think the challenge is it’s inherently beneficial for some businesses and inherently challenging for others and we want to support everybody,” Cunningham said Monday. “And it’s going take an awful lot of work as a community to ensure any business that experiences any sort of negative impact are supported,” to mitigate those impacts.

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