West Palm Beach considers permanently blocking cars from Clematis Street, opening up gathering spots

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- - Cutting cars out of Clematis Street in West Palm Beach?

That is the idea that is gaining steam at city hall that would permanently block vehicle traffic from Clematis Street.

Mayor Jeri Muoio likes the idea as long as it helps businesses.

The idea is to block cars from the streets and replace traffic for planters and seating. The city would hope more people would hang out and find downtown more welcoming and spending more money.

Some business owners like Charles Noonan at Tin Fish Restaurant have mixed feelings.

 "One of the biggest complaints I hear from my customers is the issue about parking," said Noonan.

He fears his problem could get bigger if the road is blocked off for pedestrians.

"If you're taking the parking away, it sounds like it's going to make some people unhappy and things more difficult," said Noonan.

City spokesperson Elliot Cohen said the proposal is just an idea, no decisions have been made.

"The only way we'd do is if we thought it was helping the people that were there," said Cohen.

Cohen said the idea came out of new "walkability" study. He said if the city does it, there would be no risk because they can always open the streets back up to cars.

"I think more people would feel welcome," said Amanda Rosa, a West Palm Beach resident.

Rosa thinks closing Clematis Street is a good idea and a safe idea for those who walk and ride.

Noonan said he is open to the idea as long as it is on a trial basis.
"If they close off all the street and make it more into a park area where people spend time and walk with their families it might bring more people down too," said Noonan.

The city said once the walkability study is finished, it will analyze the findings by researches and then begin discussing the idea.