By Jeanne Sager
JEFFERSONVILLE June 14, 2002 Darlene Fiorille isnt against a fair in her hometown, but she would have liked to have been asked first.
A business owner in downtown Jeffersonville, Fiorille was kind of surprised to receive a letter noting Main Street in the village would be shutting down for a whole day in August. Its one of the busiest seasons for any business in Sullivan County and its a Saturday to boot.
The Jeffersonville Area Chamber of Commerce has received permission to close down State Route 52, Main Street in the village, on August 3 from noon into the early evening.
The chamber holds one of its biggest events of the year the Jeff Jamboree each summer at the Lions Field. This year, however, theyve decided to start off with a parade and then hold a street fair (similar to other area towns) with vendors, lemonade stands and activities for the whole family.
According to Kathy Herbert, a member and director of the chamber, the idea was to bring the business back into town.
Asked why the chamber decided to move the Jamboree, she said, It was broken up at the Lions Field, and it just needed to be fixed.
They [the business owners] said youre taking all the business out of town, she recalled.
The whole idea is to better the community, added Sue Bodenstein, another chamber member and Main Street business owner. Callicoon does really well with their street fair on Main Street, and the chamber could never match that out of town.
This allows the community to be more involved, Bodenstein said, and because there wont be as much set up required, it will be easier to pull off a street fair.
According to Herbert, a letter went out to businesses around town inviting them to get involved with the placement of the Jamboree. Opposition did not come to light until after the chamber had already received permission from the state to close off Main Street.
But some businesses notably Fiorilles store, known as the Jeff Pharmacy, and Pecks Market have been asking for some help to keep the street open even if the fair is held downtown.
They said they werent notified of the street closing until a letter was sent to them stating that it would be shut down on that date.
Lee Reimer, chairman of the board of the Pecks Market chain, asked the village board Wednesday night to get involved with the Jamboree this year.
Were not opposed to the chamber having a street fair, he said.
But closing the street for five hours will decimate Pecks Markets business for the day, he noted.
Theres not a lot of customers who will carry their groceries to their cars that are parked down the street, Reimer told the board.
Besides, he and Fiorille both noted that delivery trucks will be unable to reach their stores on that Saturday a day that is traditionally busy because of the summer season but also because welfare, Medicaid and other checks come out at that time of the month.
If they cant receive deliveries, Fiorille said, they wont be able to stock necessary medicines for families who depend on refills at that time of the month.
We want to congratulate the chamber for bringing people back into the Main Street, she said, but the question is, why do we have to shut the street down?
My other concern is this is a precedent, she noted. If they can do it that way, without contacting us, whats to stop them from closing the street the day after Thanksgiving so Santa can have sleigh rides with the kids?
According to Herbert, this is a once-a-year project.
If it doesnt work, we wont do it again, she said. But one of the big concerns is safety safety for the kids on the street that day.
And whats the sense of having these bands were paying beaucoup bucks for if the traffic on the street keeps you from hearing them? she asked.
Besides, Bodenstein added, the parade traditionally shuts down Main Street for several hours on the morning of the Jamboree this will only extend that closing for two to three hours.
Ed Justus, mayor of the village, suggested the board table the issue so that the businesses can meet with the chamber and draw up an agreement.
The village has traditionally stayed out of the chambers activities, he said, encouraging the businesses to approach the organization with their requests.