Pending the approval of several neighborhood and city organizations, Wisconsin Avenue might become home to a monthly Georgetown street festival within the coming year.
Wisconsin Avenue business owner John Hays, who first pitched the idea, envisions roping off the road from Q through M Streets once a month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The plan would allow businesses and neighborhood groups to hold a monthly festival in the open space.
Hays is a co-owner of The Phoenix, a clothing store that has been run by his family for more than 50 years. At a forum organized by the Georgetown Business Association last week, he suggested blocking off sections of Wisconsin to all vehicular traffic in an effort to increase business revenue and strengthen community ties.
“Many cities have walking streets,” he said. “This creates a sense of community and is a wonderful way for neighbors and visitors [to explore Georgetown].”
Hays said he hoped that the proposal could be implemented within the next year, but first it must be approved by the City Council, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E, the District Department of Transportation and other city agencies along with several business and neighborhood groups.
Democratic City Councilmember for Ward 2 Jack Evans said that city planners would need to find a way to redirect Wisconsin Avenue’s regular traffic before the proposal could be considered.
“An event like this would take a lot of planning, and we couldn’t just close down the street. We would need to offer [alternative routes],” he told The Hoya.
James Bracco, executive director of the Georgetown Business Improvement District, echoed Evans’ views of the proposal, emphasizing the need to reroute bus lines that usually run on Wisconsin.
“Wisconsin Avenue is a major way in and out of the city,” Bracco said. “It will really depend on the residents more than us [as to whether this idea will be approved] since traffic will have to be rerouted through the neighborhoods.”
Students who frequent the street on weekends expressed enthusiasm about the idea.
“I’m all for outdoor markets,” Lina Jamis (COL ’12) said. “I think that if they defined boundaries, rezoned places and made alternate routes [for traffic] clearly marked, the idea could work well.”
But according to Bracco, the plan is still a long way from becoming a reality.
“This is not a high priority, but it is on our to-do list,” he said.