June 28, 2012
Main Street will remain one-way
Despite a last-minute effort from downtown businesses, Main Street will remain one-way during New York Jets training camp next month.
“Trying to turn Main Street into a two-way street between now and the Jets’ arrival is not feasible,” said Mayor Brian Tobin. “We’re looking for other ways we can promote Main Street for the camp.”
In May, Karina Murphy, owner of the Blue Frog Cafe and Music Club, submitted a petition to the city Common Council signed by nearly 70 local businesses and residents asking to change Main Street to two ways during Jets camp.
City aldermen said last month there was not enough time to convert Main Street before the Jets arrive July 26. They also said they didn’t want to make a temporary change without thinking about long-term costs.
Tobin said he was interested in discussing whether Main Street should be open for two-way traffic in the future.
“The first thing is determining, ‘What’s better, one-way or two-way?’” Tobin said.
He said it is unlikely the city could have received approval from the state Department of Transportation in time for the camp.
In an interview Wednesday, Murphy said she was not surprised by the decision to keep one-way traffic on Main Street. She still hopes the city will do other things to attract visitors downtown, such as posting signs on the SUNY Cortland campus.
“When fans are coming into Cortland, they are going to go right to the camp,” Murphy said. “If there’s anything we can do to get them to spend some time downtown for a while, we should do that.”
A two-way Main Street has been a topic of discussion for decades. Main Street was converted into a one-way street in 1967.
In 2010, city officials estimated a proposed 90-day trial of a one-way Main Street, which would have involved removing three street islands and installing new traffic signals. It would have cost about $140,000.
The city would lose 24 parking spaces to make the change.
The Jets are in the second year of a three-year contract with SUNY Cortland to hold training camp at the college’s facilities. The contract includes an optional two-year extension.
In 2010, the training camp attracted 41,000 spectators.
Murphy has no regrets about circulating her two-way Main Street petition. She hopes it will revive the debate about whether Main Street should be a two-way street.
Tobin said there needs to be more discussion about the long-term future of Main Street and whether it should be one-way or two-way traffic.
“I think we really need to think it through,” Murphy said. “There are pretty strong points about how much traffic we’re getting from out of town.”
Tobin said the city is considering its options to promote the camp, including placing a green line on the roads connecting SUNY Cortland’s campus to Main Street. The Jets team colors are green and white.
Tobin said he was not sure if the city could actually do that since it might lead to lawsuits if someone had a car accident.
“We’re bouncing around a lot of ideas,” Tobin said.
He said a few community groups are also planning volunteer efforts to clean up downtown before the Jets arrive.
Murphy says the potential revenue from Jets camp is too good to pass up. She said other communities with NFL training camps make it a “big deal” by promoting it with signs, events and other attractions to bring people to their downtown business.
“We should follow that model. I think the potential is really big ... It’s kind of being handed to us,” Murphy said. “We have lots and lots of people coming Cortland. It’s really up to us.”
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