closing streets for political events

Brent Finnegan -- April 25th, 2008

The partial closure of Court Square for Mark Warner’s May 6 visit came up at City Council on Tuesday (and is covered in the DNR today). It seemed like a touchy subject for members of council. As I recall, when George Allen was on the courthouse steps for the marriage amendment rally, Court Square was open, but the counter-rally was spilling out into the street.

How should the city treat political events like this? What role does public safety play, and who qualifies?

14 Responses to “closing streets for political events”

  1. Bubby says:

    Charlie Chenault “isn’t thrilled” by Governor Warner’s visit ? Just imagine his mood when Warner is his Senator.

  2. Gxeremio says:

    It seems to me like this request is more about expected media coverage than expected crowds. The article mentions the need for a platform for TV cameras, since this kind of event is likely to be covered across the state and perhaps by national media outlets as well, while the marriage amendment rally seemed like more of a local event.

    As an aside, it seems like whenever Mark Warner comes to town, people come out to meet him in a big way. I remember the overflow crowd for the Jim Webb rally at CST, and the pictures of his visit to Traditions looked like a packed house, too.

  3. finnegan says:

    I’ve never heard Charlie make an anti-Warner statement. I don’t think he’s that kind of Republican.

    The way I read it, this is a touchy subject with council members. It’s about setting a precedent.

  4. JGFitzgerald says:

    Finnegan’s probably right. A sensible council member would rather vote on a multi-million dollar tax increase than a citizen’s group or club with a special request. The problem is that every time you say yes you can be sure you’ll have to have a very good reason for saying no the next time.

  5. NewHburger says:

    What gets me is their expectation of parking for their caravan! I say we make them drive around the Square until a spot opens up like the rest of us.

  6. David Miller says:

    Court Square is for short term parking like paying a ticket or picking up lunch to go. This “rally” should take a good deal of time, may I suggest that you utilize the free parking available in either our newly refurbished Water Street Parking Garage or our Elizabeth Street Parking Garage instead.

    The precedent setting business is always a shitty job, thankless in fact. Personally I think that this type of event would be better suited to the yet to be built Pavilion. Being surrounded by ample parking in the municipal lot, the media could have all of the “stage” space they need.

    The downside is that the Court House provides a wonderfully photogenic backdrop for political exercises.

  7. Tina says:

    Gxeremio makes a good point – when Warner & Webb were at Court Square Theater, there was an overflow crowd (don’t tell the Fire Marshall!). Parking for them wasn’t an issue, but there were a larger number of news organizations than anticipated with their vans and equipment. I imagine this time around, the media coverage will be even greater. So for logistics and safety of the increased number of pedestrians, I can understand the request. I can also see why City Council may not want to set the precedent.

  8. charles chenault says:

    Finn is correct. You will never hear me make an anti-Warner statement. This is an exciting event for the community that I look forward to. I was just concerned with the scope of the request and the public safety issue. I felt letting Kurt make the decision was the responsible thing to do, and I support his decision without reservation. Joe’s comment is right on the money.
    Thanks – Charlie

  9. Bubby says:

    If an elected City official concludes; 1)that he serves all of the citizens, not just the ones that voted for him, 2) that citizen participation in the political process is a hallmark of free countries, 3) that traffic flow in Hburg is poor on a good day so what-the-hey, and 4) when a rock star and his paparazzi visit you roll out the red carpet…he won’t have a problem with this decision.

  10. NewHburger says:

    If you read the DNR story, it says Mark Warner is coming here on day 3 of his announcement tour. The “throngs of media” will be long gone by day 2. The only “paparazzi” he’ll get is from TV 3.

  11. cook says:

    NewHburger made me laugh: “I say we make them drive around the Square until a spot opens up like the rest of us.”

    Some of you don’t make it downtown often, but I have a front row seat on Court Square. Quite a bit of traffic goes by throughout the day. When the street is blocked for a road repair or, more often, when a truck is trying to get around the square, traffic gets jammed up pretty fast.

    I know: Harrisonburg traffic “problems” are nothing compared to most other cities, but we Hburgers seem to get confused pretty quickly in the maze of one-way streets when “the route I always take” is blocked.

  12. kyle says:

    “Hburgers seem to get confused pretty quickly”

    I guess I’ll just leave this one alone…

  13. JGFitzgerald says:

    An eight-word quote from a 33-word sentence? Questionable. But then he said, “I guess I’ll just leave,” so I guess it’s OK.

  14. finnegan says:

    No matter.

    Looks like they’ve canceled plans to close the street.

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