Fairfax City council members support the Park and Recreation Department's request to close North Street and return to the former Fall Festival route. They are split, however, on whether to move the annual Lunch with Santa event out of downtown Fairfax.
Director Mike McCarty and events superintendent Leslie Herman presented new additions to the city's annual event line-up and changes to existing festivals at Tuesday's council meeting.
This year, Parks and Recreation plans to utilize an old Fall Festival route rather than keep one the department has tried over the last two years. The shift would save the department $16,000 in staff and material costs.
That old route, which opens North Street and closes Armstrong street to traffic, will shift the Fall Festival a block to the south, cutting off businesses in Old Town Village to the festival. Businesses in Old Town Village will receive free booths in front of Old Town Hall so they can maintain their presence with the festival crowd.
Councilman Dan Drummond expressed concerns about returning to the former route, citing an increase in traffic along Barbour and Sideburn Road as traffic attempts to get past the downtown festival.
"That's residential traffic on a weekend when you have kids playing. I don't think that's a good idea," Drummond said. "One of the intentions of having George Mason Boulevard was to lower the amount of cut-through traffic."
Parks and Recreation staffers agreed to look at allowing vehicles to make left-turn only onto George Mason Boulevard.
The proposal to move Lunch with Santa to the Sherwood Center from its current location at Old Town Hall raised more concerns.
Council members Ellie Schmidt and Jeff Greenfield wondered if the relocation to the Sherwood Center would draw traffic away from businesses downtown.
McCarty agreed this was a possibility, but mentioned plans to offer free shuttles from the Sherwood Center to downtown Fairfax and a tie-in business special to make up for the loss in downtown foot traffic.
The Parks and Recreation planner also outlined plans to increase the Festival of Lights and Carols music activities in Kitty Pozer Garden and move the annual Easter Egg Hunt from Fairfax High School's turf field to Van Dyck Park.