The Union Leader is reporting that the Hanover Street pedestrian mall pilot has been a success. For the past four weekends, the first block of Hanover Street has been closed to vehicles on Friday and Saturday nights, with restaurants and bars extending seating into the street, and musicians performing for pedestrians. Now, those businesses are saying that they’d like to extend the pilot program, and city leaders who have been proponents of the pilot are looking at ways to expand and improve it:

For the past month, an urban experiment has been under way on Hanover Street.

On Friday and Saturday nights, a section of the street downtown has been closed to cars, with the restaurants and bars extending seating out on to the sidewalk and offering live music.

For the most part, the experiment has been a success, business owners told city officials at a meeting last week, but there have been some bumps in the road.

One of the main issues has been communication, says 

Andrea Lessard, the proprietor of the clothing boutique Shop Estella.

“The last I heard about this was in April, and then I was told a week before that the street was closing,” she said. “I think this could be great, but I think so far it’s been done with very little communication or leadership.”

That was one the reasons for the meeting, says Alderman Pat Long, who has been one of the main boosters of the street-closing idea.

He’s urging the businesses in the area to form their own association to coordinate and oversee the event. “They could have Intown Manchester tell them what to do, or they can form their own Hanover Street LLC and decide what they want to do,” he said. The group could coordinate, for example, what type of outdoor music would be played.

Long intends to bring a motion before the aldermen this week to extend the pilot program through Labor Day weekend.

And down the line, bigger plans are being discussed. 

Peter Ramsey, president of the Palace Theater, is considering offering free movies and entertainment.

Long would like to see street vendors and performers.

“We don’t want a carnival atmosphere, but maybe some Art Institute students could draw caricatures. We want to attract pedestrians,” he said.

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