Yellow Springs’ Short Street could become plaza on weekends

The Yellow Springs Village Council planned an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss the potential closing of Short Street on weekends to create a pedestrian gathering place. MARSHALL GORBYSTAFF
The Yellow Springs Village Council planned an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss the potential closing of Short Street on weekends to create a pedestrian gathering place. MARSHALL GORBYSTAFF

Yellow Springs is considering closing Short Street in this small Greene County village on weekends and making it a gathering place where pedestrians can safely walk and stand to listen to speakers or musicians.

Councilwoman Lisa Kreeger also proposed this week renaming Short Street to Freedom Court. Along with the potential renaming, the village’s council plans to discuss what a Black Lives Matter mural could look like along the street.

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The idea to designate Short Street as a plaza space is one that’s been around for years, but has never been formally discussed by council, according to village council president, Brian Housh. The decision is now timely, though, as COVID-19 pandemic has made space for residents and visitors to safely congregate, in a socially distant manner, more valuable.

The street has been a prominent area where people participating in Black Lives Matter rallies have gathered. The freeing of the space on weekends could provide a gathering place for speakers and musicians to perform.

“If everybody supports (it), then I think we want to action it as soon as possible,” Housh said.

Kreeger has been working with Yellow Springs organization, The 356 Project, to determine what a future could look like for the space. On its website, the organization said it aims to breakdown cultural barriers that exist within society.

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“Our scope includes the bigger picture promoting diversity and giving people the opportunity to engage and converse with each other,” reads the organization’s mission statement.

After checking with business owners along the street, Kreeger said there is no opposition to the change.

The street would not be permanently closed to traffic, Housh emphasized. If made a plaza, removable blockades would be in place to section off the street on weekends and special events.

Council plans to approach the renaming decision as an “actionable item” at the next village council meeting. Housh said an official vote is not likely at the next meeting, however, a more concrete proposal of what the designation could look like is likely.

The next regular council meeting will be held online at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 20.