Updated May 3: Once again the West Chester Borough Council agenda included a line item on the Gay Street Closure, and this week a decision was made. For the 2023 season the street will be closed on weekends, or Friday through Sunday, from May 5 through October 29. 

Now that Gay Street is officially under Borough control officials will not have to seek approval from PennDOT regarding the duration of the closure. This gives officials the flexibility to start earlier and end later – which they will take advantage of for 2023. Borough Council, however, rejected the idea of a 24-7 closure – for now.

“It feels a little premature to me,” said Councilwoman Lisa Dorsey. “There has to be a compromise until we have a better-baked plan.” It was an argument that seemed to win over members. The limited closure passed 7-0. 

2023 Specifics

Dates: May 5 – October 29

Duration: Weekends only. Closure will begin Friday mornings. Barricades will be lifted on Monday morning.

Streets impacted: Gay Street from Matlack to New Streets

Rules of the Road

West Chester Borough Council has approved the outdoor regulations for the 2023 Gay Street Open Air Market – they are essentially the same as the 2022 rules. You can find the complete list here. Highlights include outdoor dining ending at 11 p.m., music allowed at moderate levels and, in case you need it, businesses can offer free garage parking to customers with a voucher.

The Reasons for and Against a Full-Time Closure

For those fine-tuning your arguments for or against, here’s where leaders stand. 

  • Loss of street parking is not a huge concern – in terms of revenue and capacity. The closure removes 65 spaces out of a total of 1700 (street and garages) or 4 percent. “It’s our feeling that’s not an impactful number. It’s an impactful location for sure but it makes up a pretty small amount of the table,” Borough Manager Sean Metrick told the council on Tuesday. 
  • Regarding revenues, the Borough loses $18,000 a month in street parking revenue during the closure but sees an increase of $17,000 in the garages during this same period. Not a conclusive study but evidence that people are not avoiding the Borough, just parking elsewhere. 
  • The costs of tearing down and setting up the street each weekend are $1600/week or $27,000 in in-kind labor for 2022. Expect that number to go up next year with the additional weekends. 
  • Borough Council is going to explore fee options for restaurants and retailers opting to use the additional space to help offset some of the costs of the closure to the Borough. (A good idea since all those labor costs would be saved by leaving it closed for the season, just saying.) 
  • Product delivery and parking proximity are two business concerns without good solutions. While parking is available during the closure, parking spots steps from your desired Gay Street location are not. Product delivery also remains a challenge. Back alleys can only accommodate one-way traffic and often have low-hanging wires, limiting their usefulness as an alternative.  

Originally published, Nov. 18, 2022

This story is part of a longer weekly West Chester newsletter. Curious what else is going on? You can find the full issue here and the latest newsletter here. Even easier? Subscribe here to get the future issues delivered directly to your inbox.

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