Street Closures, Fitness In Park

MONTCLAIR, NJ — Montclair will be temporarily closing South Park and Church streets to traffic on the weekends to help businesses beat the coronavirus pandemic, officials announced Thursday.

The township will also be creating a space for local fitness studios to offer socially-distanced exercise sessions at Crane Park (see more details below).

The effort is the result of a partnership between the township and the Montclair Center Business Improvement District (BID).

A pilot program to close South Park and Church streets will kick off Friday and continue through September, according to a joint statement from the town and the BID:

The BID assumed all costs for the first weekend of street closures, and the township will cover street closure costs through Sept. 27.

The BID and the township are also examining other sections of downtown to possibly present more street closures and parklet spaces to create additional pedestrian space and slow traffic.

In addition to the street closures, Crane Park will have an area dedicated to instructor-led fitness classes. Local fitness studios will have use of 60 socially-distanced spots: 35 for members, and 25 to be open to members of the public on a “first-come, first-served basis.”

Montclair also plans to develop a digital ad campaign to encourage township residents and visitors from surrounding communities to shop safely and enjoy the local outdoor restaurant scene.

Other municipal efforts to ease the COVID-19 woes in Montclair include waiving sidewalk café permit fees, and offering the first 15 minutes of parking free of charge to encourage curbside pickup services.

This is in addition to the town’s previously launched COVID-19 recovery and business re-opening plan, which makes grant funding available to local small businesses. As of Thursday, the town has received more than 150 applications, and will soon send out grant checks to qualifying businesses, officials said.

“All of these measures will allow our businesses and restaurants to expand their footprint for more traffic and patrons,” Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller said.

“We also want to provide residents and visitors greater opportunities to spend time outdoors, whether it’s enjoying an alfresco meal, shopping in our local stores, or simply taking a stroll on our streets, while following all public health requirements,” Spiller said.

“None of this would have been possible without an engaged and creative community of retailers, restaurateurs, designers, township and community leaders,” said Jason Gleason, executive director of the BID.

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This article originally appeared on the Montclair Patch