THE SQUEAKY WHEEL- Pavilion creep: Speak up about Mall takeover

Is the Pavilion creeping too far?

Every year, as more vendor spaces, café areas, vehicle crossings, and movable signs appear, pedestrian space on the Downtown Mall has been decreasing. What next?

Discussions are currently under way between the city and Kirby Hutto, event manager at the Charlottesville Pavilion, about expanding the area of the Mall that can be closed to the general public during ticketed Pavilion events. During construction of the new Transit Center, the city allowed the Pavilion to use space beyond what was designated in the original contract agreement. Now, however, it appears Hutto wants to keep it. The temporary event area includes the access path to the front door of City Hall and most of the area up to the Free Speech Monument.

What kind of message does this send?

I asked Aubrey Watts, the City's director of economic development, if blocking the main entrance to City Hall and additional pedestrian space during concerts is necessary, and if it's in the public interest. Watts wonders if such expansion is truly necessary for adequate crowd management at ticked events. As best I can determine, not many in the public are aware of these negotiations.

Who decides?

Watts is currently awaiting a survey of the East end of the Mall to identify exactly what's there, and he'll be working with Hutto to identify a satisfactory solution for the City and the Pavilion. A draft agreement should be available in a few weeks. Watts invited me to review that proposed plan, visit the site, and provide feedback. But this certainly should be a community decision. If you wish to participate in this conversation, now is the time to act. You can provide your thoughts to the city by telephoning Aubrey Watts at 970-3112.