by Adilina Rotella
“Everybody loves it” says Elizabeth Wurfbain, Executive director of the Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District. COVID-19 has been a crazy year for everyone, including small local businesses downtown on Main Street Hyannis. Downtown Hyannis is the main tourist attraction for visitors filled with restaurants, retail stores, and more. With just a short walking distance to Cape Cod famous beaches, tourists flock to this area.
As the pandemic became more serious, the Business Improvement District knew they had to do something to help the restaurants and the businesses. Knowing that indoor seating was not allowed and not all restaurants had the room for outdoor seating, if any at all, they had to act fast. At first, the “committee talked about closing the entire street completely. We put our opinion in that the little driving and parking would be better than completely closing because we were afraid it would backfire,” Wurfbain stated. After a few online call meetings, they came up with a hybrid version of a traffic pattern. The best part about this is not only did it help the businesses, but it “slowed down traffic because it was a better environment for people as they felt safe and more secure and calm,” Wurfbain stated.
As we know, Main Street consists of businesses and restaurants on both sides of the street; the next part of the process consisted of deciding which side of the street were going to close. They came to find after working closely with the engineer, it happened to be that there were more businesses and restaurants on the north side of the street. It is interesting to find out, when Wurfbain stated that they have been trying for years to switch main street back to a two-way traffic pattern considering most have gone back to two way.
It seems to be that most businesses benefited from this change for the 2020 summer season. It seems that “90% of businesses benefited from this change and I don’t think the parking has had a bad effect on it,” stated Wurfbain. With a closed off lane, this means more walking space, and more walking space means more people coming to Main Street. ‘It also looks so good that restaurants have expanded all over the street because it makes the street look good because it’s so busy,” said Wurfbain
The idea is to know if all businesses feel the same way. Dominick Marciano, Owner of Kilwins Hyannis feels that, “it allows customers to be more focused on shopping and dining. The main benefit is it gives restaurants the ability to expand outdoor dining.” In addition, Annemarie Rotella owner of Bumbalina “It’s All About Me” says it, “has allowed customers to focus on my store and has attracted more business and foot traffic, which is always a good thing.” It seems that most businesses have loved the new change to Main Street.
The main question now is, how long is it going to stay like this. After talking to Elizabeth, she stated that, “the town told us November 1st, but we asked them if it could be a little later in November because we want to take advantage of the good weather as it starts to turn somewhere between thanksgiving. It has to go down for the snow though and the clearing of the snow.” In the future, there are plans to make Main Street a two-way street as most Main Streets have gone back that way and it is safer for people.