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Delray Beach mayor outlines plan to open Atlantic Avenue to more pedestrians

Mayor Shelly Petrolia seeks to eliminate on-street parking
Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, Florida.
Posted at 12:37 PM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-11 19:01:58-04

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — During these tough economic times, cities are working to develop plans to minimize the impact and increase revenue.

Leaders in Delray Beach are considering multiple items they hope will spur economic growth and help businesses stay afloat through the pandemic.

Mayor Shelly Petrolia outlined some of these ideas in a Facebook post last week after meeting with the Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority, community redevelopment agency and the chamber of commerce.

The idea generating the most buzz is opening popular Atlantic Avenue to more pedestrians.

Petrolia suggests closing the westbound traffic, allowing a single lane of traffic to head eastbound from Swinton Avenue to Federal Highway.

The mayor said this would add a full traffic lane of space for more pedestrians on Atlantic Avenue.

The mayor said in the Facebook post that she would like the city to consider a one-way flow of pedestrians with eastbound walkers on the southside of Atlantic and westbound walkers on the northside of Atlantic Avenue.

Petrolia said she would also like to see on-street parking eliminated on Atlantic Avenue, which could then be used for additional outdoor seating for restaurants.

Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority President Laura Simon said the discussions happening now are different from ones that occurred two months ago.

"This is longer-term. When we came into this in May, we were looking at hopefully as shorter-term, now it is a longer-term process," Simon said.

Simon said safety is a big part of these discussions and making sure people comply with the rules.

"It is still important for customers to know that masks our required," Simon said.

"That kind of engagement and that kind of support is what we need," said Nancy Reagan, the owner of Bella Reina Spa in Delray Beach.

Reagan said she likes the city offering to help and would like to see all types of businesses included in future ideas.

"One of the things that I see that is working really well is doing business patterning … years ago, we did the fabulous scavenger hunt. It took you to all the different businesses in the town," Reagan said.

Simon said ideas to help current businesses and offer incentives to fill vacant spots are also being discussed.