MERCERDiamond Street closed for concerts
By Jenn Heinold
Herald Staff Writer
It was standing room only in Mercer council chambers Tuesday as North Diamond Street business owners voiced their opposition to closing the street during the townís summer concerts.
More than 10 people attended to tell council that business suffers when the street is closed to accommodate crowds for concerts on the courthouse lawn.
The Friday night concerts feature the Mercer Community Band.
"Thereís nothing wrong with the band concerts," said Dick Jackal, owner of Sidebar and Grille, 117 N. Diamond St. "Letís face it, though, itís a weekend business and the street closing hinders business."
Barbara Busch, owner of Showtime Video, 149 N. Diamond St., agreed. She added that last year on Friday nights during the concerts, her receipts were down 25 percent to 30 percent.
"Most customers complain that there is no parking," Mrs. Busch told council.
Dr. Hendley Hoge, band conductor for 24 years, disputed the business ownersí claims.
"Iíve had more business owners say that there is more business because people come from all over western PA for the concerts," Hoge said.
Hoge added that his main concern if the street isnít closed is safety and the boroughís liability if an accident occurs.
After much debate about moving the concerts to a different night or location, council voted 7 to 1 to close North Diamond during the concerts. Councilman Jeff Swartzbeck voted against the street closing.
"This town is not business-friendly," said Jackalís wife, Dianna.
The 2001 summer concert series will begin June 22 with the Greenville Steel Drum Band and the Mercer Community Band.
North Diamond Street will be closed from about 6:30 to 9 p.m. Fridays for the concerts.
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