ST. CHARLES, MO - Several store owners in Old Town St. Charles filed a lawsuit against the city over changes made to holiday parking which they argue could cause irreparable harm to the future of their businesses. The city of St. Charles announced it will shut down vehicle traffic on several blocks in the historic district to accommodate the growing weekend crowds.
Eleven businesses on south Main Street filed a lawsuit on Tuesday (Dec. 3) asking for a restraining order. The suit states that during the first weekend of the St. Charles Christmas Traditions Celebration (Nov. 29-Dec. 1), the city placed barricades on both sides of S, Main St. from Boone's Lick Road to First Capitol Drive eliminating parking and reducing traffic down to one northbound lane on Saturday and Sunday.
During Tuesday night's city council meeting, Mayor Dan Borgmeyer announced that moving forward, the city will instead shut down traffic on the same stretch of Main St. on Saturdays and Sundays through Christmas Eve when crowds become too large for sidewalks to handle. In the event of small crowds or inclement weather, the street will remain open.
Borgmeyer said the move will eliminate approximately 100 parking spaces, however, 20 more handicap parking spaces will be added in the area. The city will also provide golf cart pick up and drop off to and from shops, volunteers will assist shoppers with carrying packages to their cars, and the city will increase signage to help people navigate parking.
The lawsuit states the affected weekends are the busiest of the year for the shops, and business owners believe parking is crucial to their success.
Fox 2/News 11 spoke with several of the plaintiffs who reported sales were up as much as 31 percent over last year on Black Friday despite the rain. However, they said after the barricades went up sales dropped as much as 30 percent on Saturday and 69 percent on Sunday.
This is the 45th year for Christmas Traditions, a multi-weekend event which includes Christmas-inspired characters in costume, holiday displays, carolers, and a Santa parade.
Borgmeyer said Christmas Traditions has "outgrown the venue," and closing Main St. during peak weekend hours will prevent accidents.
"If you've got cars parked on both sides, and a kid wants to get to Santa Claus on the other side, the minute he steps passed that parked car, he's in a traffic lane," said Borgmeyer. "It's a risk I'm not willing to take."
On Halloween in 2014, a trick-or-treater was seriously hurt after being struck by a car on Riverside Drive, just one block over from Main Street. Police said it was an accident after the child ran between two stopped vehicles and was hit by a passing truck.
A court hearing is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon (Dec. 4).