Springfield City Council last night passed a resolution to bring back the community tradition of cruising on Kearney Street, a move stakeholders say will boost economic development in the city.
The legislation presented by City Manager Greg Burris and sponsored by Councilwoman Phyllis Ferguson allows such events as classic car driving shows to once again take place on Kearney Street. Last night’s resolution was meant to recognize that “cruising Kearney Street is a community tradition that brings neighborhoods together while promoting civic engagement and encouraging tourism,” according to council’s agenda.
“When the street rods come to Springfield over Memorial Day weekend, the economic impact of those vehicles — over 2,000 of them — is $2.4 million to the city,” Ferguson said. “Cruisers make a difference.”
According to city code, cruising is defined as “driving a motor vehicle on a public street past a traffic control point located within a designated cruising control area more than twice within a two-hour period of time.” Also according to the code, cruising can have a negative impact on health, safety and the economic welfare of the community. Cruising can mean congested traffic, delaying timely emergency services, impairing access to businesses and generating air pollution. Burris could not be reached for comment this morning by deadline.
Still, the city will encourage cruising on Kearney during specified hours of the second Friday of April-October in what Ferguson called a “pilot project.”
“The police chief said that the burnouts are not going to be allowed, which is a little disappointing, but we’re going to go with it,” Ferguson said jokingly.
Joann Wolf, a member of the Doling Neighborhood Association, spoke in favor at Monday night’s resolution. Wolf also is the owner of J-Wo Designs at 604 W. Kearney St.
“I’m seeing Route 66 and Kearney Street shutting down when I close my doors at 5 or 6 or 7, and nothing happens,” Wolf said. “What better thing to try than a few cruising events.”
Wolf pointed to the fact downtown Springfield and Commercial Street have similar events that draw in large crowds.
“It’s time to move it north,” Wolf said. “As a business owner, I may stay open longer.
“We’ve got a big parking lot and we could do something there.”
The resolution passed 6-0. Craig Hosmer and Kristi Fulnecky were both absent and one council seat is currently vacant after Ken McClure was elected mayor.
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