PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s just a few weeks away from the Hawthorne Street Fair, happening Aug. 18. But organizers received some disappointing news: street-fair-goers won’t have the full street to celebrate on.
So as the sidewalks along Hawthorne Boulevard — between SE 30th and 50th avenues — are packed with dozens of vendors and thousands of people Aug. 18, cars and buses will still be going by.
“For us, it’s a public safety issue,” said Hilda Stevens, president of the Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association. “Neighbors want to be able to have a car-free fair. They want to be able to walk the street and not have to be worried about, ‘How fast is the car coming behind me?’”
It was members of the Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association who wanted the street closed during the festival, but the city of Portland said no. Now the group is starting a signature campaign, hoping public pressure can help to get the street closed.
City officials say they rejected the proposal for a full closure because there will already be a 24-hour closure on Division Street while sewer pipes are replaced.
“We don’t want to create a bigger inconvenience for people traveling through Southeast by closing both Division and Hawthorne,” said Portland Bureau of Transportation Spokesperson Diane Dulken.
KOIN 6 News asked why they couldn’t move the date of the sewer project. “It’s a multi-million dollar project,” Dulken said, “and has been planned for a year.”
Instead there’s a partial closure on Hawthorne Boulevard.
From 32nd Avenue and Hawthorne to 39th Avenue, all parking spots will be open to pedestrians only. And there will be only one traffic lane in each direction instead of two.
So a good portion of Hawthorne will be blocked off, but not the whole thing. Again, vehicles can still get through.
In 2012 an estimated 13,000 people attended the Hawthorne Street Fair. This year is the festival’s 30th anniversary – so organizers are expecting even larger crowds.
And for those at the Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association, that spells concern: “We want to be able to have a celebration,” Stevens said, “without any public safety issues.”
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