Downtown chalk the block

From Helen Marshall:
I have reflected all week about last week’s giant fiesta, Chalk the Block, which took over most of downtown last Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We foolishly tried to go downtown on Saturday, allowing double the normal time to get there and park to have our anniversary dinner at Anson’s. Ha! The traffic on Mesa was packed as we crossed I-10 and then we hit the intersection of Mesa and Franklin, blocked by drivers going west. There was no sign of traffic control. When we eventually reached Main we saw that it was blocked to the west, so no way to get to the parking garage (which may have been full anyway). We turned east and hit more roadwork. After several more failed efforts to find parking we escaped north and had dinner somewhere else!

Later I read in the Times that this festival has a claimed $1 million impact on the downtown. Not sure how anyone measures this. Let’s see now – 4 hours on Friday and Sunday, and 12 hours on Saturday, a total of 20 hours. Festival goers were spending nearly $50,000 per hour downtown? Where??? Buying what??? The food trucks were not “downtown businesses.” In any case, the event caused a downtown restaurant to lose our business…

Maybe future Chalks will be held in the Arena – although given the stated intent to provide no parking for the Arena, downtown is likely to be a mess when there is an event there, especially if there is a baseball game, and perhaps a show at the Plaza. Or do they intend to coordinate to insure that there is never more than one event on the same night?

Meantime, the impetus to go downtown is fading and even the end of the Trolley work might not revive it.

12 Responses to Downtown chalk the block

  1. Helen Marshall says:

    The point of this post was simply to note that massive events like the Chalk the Block are disruptive, and the organizers could make them much less so if there were better traffic control, including people directing traffic to enable access to parking, etc. Perhaps if we had gone earlier we might have found the parking that Ms Robinet did, but we had not realized we needed to head that way long before 7 pm. A vibrant downtown is indeed a pleasure, but a chaotic one does not entice you to return! I’ve lived in and visited cities elsewhere in the US and the world and don’t recall any such complete takeover of the central area of the city (although of course many of those places have substantial networks of buses and subways that run in the evenings, eliminating the need to drive)/

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  2. downtown worker says:

    We were downtown for Chalk the Block and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I love all the activity that downtown offers. I work downtown and agree that the trolley construction, which is proceeding at a snails pace, causes traffic nightmares. However, having a vibrant downtown is key to a successful city. I’m a fan.

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  3. Sharon Robinet says:

    One last comment for your readers. Across the street from San Jacinto Park on Mills Ave there are public restrooms being proposed.

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  4. Sharon Robinet says:

    I hate to disappoint, but the desire to go downtown is anything but fading. I’m sorry you had difficulty parking that night. We were downtown and had cocktails at Anson 11 and then went to the Plaza for Dance For Kid Sake. After the event we returned to Anson 11 to end the evening. We were able to sit on the patio and watch the Buzz and excitement that was taking place throughout Downtown.

    The restaurants have been more than pleased with the recent excitement. The buzz has forced the Camino into finally wanting to upgrade their Hotel and The Plaza Hotel into finally planning on renovating and re-opening.

    Relocating these events into the heart of El Paso might possibly have some tweaking to do In order to insure all goes smoothly, although I had no difficulties in parking. Hopefully you will continue to be patient as the events continue to improve and learn from any mistakes.

    We recently had an event downtown and it was necessary to close streets and we experienced some things that we will change in order to improve next year. However, it was a huge success and we experienced a 20% growth due to the relocation of this event.

    El Paso’s downtown will only continue to grow and improve and we should all not only support it, but embrace it. Much of the congestion and difficulty in getting around downtown is due to the construction of the trolley tracks. This Is only temporary and we will be able to enjoy the excitement of a Downtown Trolly!!

    I for one am very thrilled and proud to watch our Downtown grow and thrive!!

    Downtown Proud!!

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  5. The Oracle says:

    Unless you want to eat strange and over priced food downtown, I don’t see anywhere (except Korean and Chinese owned junk stores) downtown, to . . . BUY . . . anything worthwhile.
    And there is not a public restroom on every block, so, no thank you.

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  6. Jerry K says:

    The parking will be at UTEP and people shuffled to and from on the trolley.

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  7. abandon hope says:

    Don’t worry. The City will build some parking garages and the taxpayers will foot the bill. Ms. Marshall, I suggest you talk to your good friend Jim Tolbert about your concerns. Unfortunately, there’s little chance he’ll listen to you.

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    • Helen Marshall says:

      I’m impressed that you know who my friends are and what they will do. Regardless, Jim Tolbert is not the city rep for downtown.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Our police department provides traffic control and security for the for-profit tenants who occupy the ballpark, but not for public events on the streets.

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  9. I am getting tired of repeating myself, but: we do not need yet another undersized downtown arena. We do not need yet another place to try to draw the occasional crowd without providing for traffic and parking. We do not need to keep building things on the taxpayers’ dime that will not benefit the city!

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