Downtown Bowling Green

Downtown businesses asked to pick up tab for parking

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green leaders have two months to solve downtown parking issues until their time expires. When the time is up, the cost of parking meters will double in the downtown area if a solution isn’t found. On Tuesday evening, Bowling Green City Council Committee of the Whole listened to a proposal for sharing the costs of parking downtown. This proposal – unlike the initial idea to double meter costs to 50 cents an hour – suggests that all parking meters and kiosks be pulled out, and downtown property and business owners be assessed for parking costs. The problem is that the city isn’t making enough from its downtown parking meters to pay for repaving the lots and enforcing parking rules. But the fear is that doubling parking costs will discourage customers from patronizing downtown businesses. The city’s downtown lots – with their 600-plus parking spaces – are struggling due to flat revenue, increasing costs and aging infrastructure. So the options suggested last month included increasing the parking revenue, sharing the costs of maintaining the parking lots, or getting rid of some of the expenses. Other Ohio college communities such as Kent and Oxford charge up to $1 an hour for parking. Toledo charges at least 50 cents per hour. However, no parking meters are used in Perrysburg, Defiance, Waterville, Findlay or Maumee. Tuesday on City Council’s agenda was the third reading of an ordinance increasing the parking rates. Council agreed to table that ordinance to give a task force time to discuss other options. Council President Mike Aspacher suggested that the task force include downtown property owners and business owners. “It’s a critically important component in the success of our community,” Aspacher said. Council member Greg Robinette stressed the need for the group to work quickly, since the parking kiosks in the lot behind Panera need to be updated by December if the city continues to use the kiosks there. “I’d like to force us to move the process along,” Robinette said, suggesting that the task force be limited to two months. “Time is ticking,” said council member John Zanfardino. The city also needs to repave downtown parking lots 1, 3 and 4. That is estimated to cost $400,000. Under a shared cost program, the downtown property owners would be assessed based on their front footage and the benefits to their parcels. The average property owner would pay $220 a year for 20 years. The lowest amount charged would be $30 a year. The highest – to the owner of multiple properties – would be $2,000 a year. Those assessments would generate about $20,000 a year. The concept of the downtown property owners picking up the tab for parking expenses was not supported by the landowners during a meeting earlier this year. However, the business owners attending the last council meeting stated they would be willing to share in the expenses if it meant customers wouldn’t have to pay for parking. Aspacher and council members Bruce Jeffers and Sandy Rowland stressed the need for business owners to be included in the conversations – not just the property owners. “We need to make sure they are both on the same page,” Aspacher said. While parking would be free to motorists under this proposal,…

Downtown BG announces change in trick or treat event

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN Downtown Bowling Green, OH is excited to announce there are big changes to its annual Downtown Trick or Treat event. Mark your calendar for October 19. Last year about 2,000 children filled the sidewalks to collect treats from the local businesses. It’s an incredible sight to see so many young children dressed up. It also raised some concerns about keeping all the children safe. The best solution was for us to close the street this year. When this was talked about at the Downtown Merchants meeting it was very apparent that if the street was closed we should consider the possibility of having another Firefly Nights. Talks with the Bowling Green Central Business Special Improvement District dba Downtown Bowling Green and the Firefly Nights creators were agreeable and we are moving forward. This will be the Firefly Nights Fall Festival and you can expect to experience music, food, kids activities, and so much more. Don’t worry; there will be plenty of treats for the children too! This will all happen October 19th, 6-10 p.m. on Main Street in Downtown Bowling Green and is taking the place of what was planned for October 26th, not the regular city wide trick or treat. Expect more details to be announced soon.

BG citizens will get to vote on sculpture for Wooster Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green citizens will get a chance to vote on another major component of Wooster Green – the sculpture that will stand opposite the gazebo. Those keeping an eye on the green space at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets may have noticed that a circular sidewalk was poured on Monday. The sidewalk and benches will surround a sculpture yet to be created. A request will go out soon for local artists to submit concepts for sculptures that speak of the site where the artwork will sit – with Wooster Green taking the 1.2 acres that were previously home to the city’s senior high, then later the junior high school. “It will try to capture the history of the site and Bowling Green,” Mayor Dick Edwards said on Monday evening. “It’s a marvelous opportunity for something.” The sculpture should reflect the value of education and the learning that took place on that site, said Sharon Hanna, who is coordinating the fundraising for Wooster Green. Hanna said a committee will likely vet the sculpture designs then ask the public to make the final decision. Though some have suggested that a type of water feature would be attractive with the sculpture, Edwards noted water fountains as part of public art “can be problematic.” Citizens selected the layout of Wooster Green through a similar voting process. “We’re anxiously awaiting what will go there,” Hanna said. Two local families have donated funds for the sculpture. They remain anonymous for now. Later this week, the interior sidewalks of the Wooster Green should be installed, said Brian Craft, director of public works for the city. Later this fall, the space will have irrigation installed and grass planted. And next spring, the entryway will be constructed at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets. The space will also include trees and other landscaping, bicycle racks, benches, streetlights and trash receptacles that match the style used downtown. Plans also call for places where people can plug in to charge their handheld devices. “It’s something that has been missing from our historic downtown landscape,” Edwards said of Wooster Green. Donations and grants are still being sought for the project, since no city money is going toward the construction of the site. The estimated total cost for the site will be $450,000 – with about $350,000 being raised so far. “We’ve had a nice response,” Edwards said. “We continue to get a lot of interest.” Among the “generous” private donors are Tom and Dianne Klein, who donated $50,000 for the gazebo, the Rotary Club which donated funds for the entryway, and the Kiwanis Club which donated for the irrigation on the site. The mayor mentioned Monday that efforts are still being made to find options for public restrooms that would service the green space. Edwards said the possibility of grant funding is being studied.

Vintage shirt fundraiser a perfect fit for Finders & Downtown Bowling Green

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News For Finders Records having a vintage-theme t-shirt made in the store’s honor was a perfect fit, especially when shop owner Greg Halamay decided the store’s share of the profits would benefit Downtown Bowling Green. The shirt will be created by BG Memories, a local spirit ware company founded by Ryan Fowler and Kevin Goldner, both 2003 Bowling Green State University graduates. As of midnight, the green and gold shirt can now be ordered. Ordering will continued through Sept. 9. Laura Fredericks, manager of Finders, said it hasn’t been determined whether they will be available after that. Fredericks is a faithful customer of the company’s shirts that offer designs celebrating aspects of BGSU life, including the now-gone Harshman Quad and its dining hall. Local businesses, current, Campus Pollyeyes, defunct, Mark’s Pizza Pub, and somewhere in between, the Corner Grill, also have their own BG Memories attire. When BG Memories approached Finders, Fredericks and Halamay had a rather short conversation, he remembers. The decision was to go with the shirt and donate the store’s share, which probably will be in the neighborhood of $10 a shirt, to the Downtown BG. Halamay serves on the board of the special improvement district. “Everything the SID does downtown contributes to the health and well-being of our retail operation.” That includes clearing snow in the winter, hanging flowers in warmer weather, and sweeping sidewalks year round. It has sponsored the local Farmers Market and worked with the independent groups that stage the Black Swamp Arts Festival and Firefly Nights. Many people, he said, assume that what the SID does is paid for by the city. Downtown BG’s activities are funded through a special tax levied on property owners, who voted it in. Downtown BG also gets private donations. “As a property owner, a business owner, I thought it was a good idea and very, very appropriate” to donate the proceeds to Downtown BG, Halamay said. The shirt will be distinct from Finders’ own classic t-shirts. Those shirts, designed by Tony Duda, have been around with a few tweaks for about 35 years. The logo is familiar to anyone who works in the store. It’s based on the old sign from the campus store that is still displayed in the back office. The new shirt harks back to an earlier time, the first Finders shirt. Halamay designed those, and a few were screen printed. Like that one, the BG Memories version will be green with a gold design – the colors inspired by those of the high school Halamay attended in Akron. Those colors are still used throughout the store. Fredericks said she and BG Memories also did research into old store ads to fine tune the design. Fredericks said that she and BG Memories decided that initially at least the shirts will not be printed on demand as are the company’s other products, but screen printed once the orders are in. The shirts will be printed on premium Bella+Canvas blend shirts. Finders has been a mainstay in the downtown since 1971. Halamay said he came to BG in 1969 to attend college. He liked the historic downtown then, and for all the changes, is still a fan. The store has remained dedicated to selling recorded music, but the formats have changed…

Gas pains – BG tells Columbia Gas to not leave streets a mess

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials want Columbia Gas to clean up their mess when they are done ripping up downtown streets to replace natural gas lines. City council president Mike Aspacher expressed concern at last week’s council meeting that the street paving where Columbia Gas was done digging appeared to be substandard. “We’ve already told them to tear it out and do it again,” said Brian Craft, director of public works for the city. Though the city plans a street resurfacing job in downtown next year, that work won’t extend over the entire area dug up by Columbia Gas. The section of North Main Street located north of the Wood County Senior Center is not part of the city’s project. So, Craft told the utility company to do it again. “We’ve been on them,” he said. Aspacher said Columbia Gas is required to match the pavement so it is the same or better than it was before they tore up the streets. But that hasn’t always been the case in the past. Aspacher said Columbia Gas has previously replaced streets with substandard work after past jobs in the city. “It’s had a negative impact,” he said. Craft said once Main Street is repaved next year, it should all be smooth. A better type of asphalt will be used than during the Heritage 2000 project, when it was last paved. However, until then, the downtown streets will be a little rough, he added. In other business at last week’s meeting, council member Sandy Rowland noted how smoothly traffic seemed to move in the city over the previous weekend – despite the additional congestion from the National Tractor Pulling Championships, downtown construction by Columbia Gas, and the monthly Firefly Nights event downtown. “In spite of everything going on this weekend, traffic moved well in Bowling Green,” Rowland said. Craft noted the city gets to do it all again this weekend – with move-in at Bowling Green State University and annual soccer challenge event. In other business: Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley reported that as the summer comes to an end, the city pool will be open the next two weekends, from 1 to 7 p.m. each day. Craft said Manville Avenue, which had been torn up most of the summer, should be finished soon after Labor Day. Council learned a public hearing about Firefly Night’s liquor permit request will be held Sept. 4 at 6:45 p.m.    

BG at a crossroads with downtown parking

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is searching for just the ticket to solve its parking problems downtown. The city isn’t making enough from its downtown parking meters to pay for repaving the lots. Initially, a proposal was made to double the parking rates from 25 cents to 50 cents an hour. But on Monday evening, City Council’s Finance Committee discussed options ranging from offering all free parking, to charging more for tickets, to charging citizens a special assessment. Some downtown business owners and one citizen shopper weighed in on the issue. The discussion will continue Sept. 4, at 6 p.m., in the City Council chambers. “Probably everybody needs a little time to discuss this report,” said Bruce Jeffers, head of the finance committee. “I think we all understand there’s no parking that is free. It has to be paid by somebody,” Jeffers said. Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter explained the options Monday evening to the council committee members Jeffers, Mike Aspacher and Greg Robinette. The city’s downtown parking lots are struggling due to flat revenue, increasing costs and aging infrastructure. So the options are increasing the parking revenue, sharing the costs of maintaining the parking lots, or getting rid of some of the expenses. Other Ohio college communities such as Kent and Oxford charge up to $1 an hour for parking. Toledo charges at least 50 cents per hour. However, no parking meters are used in Perrysburg, Defiance, Waterville, Findlay or Maumee. Tretter presented the following ideas under each option. Increase parking revenue: Moving all the parking violation fees into the parking fund rather than sharing them with the city’s general fund. That move, however, would negate council’s efforts from last year to make up the general fund deficit with a garbage fee. Add parking meters and charge a premium rate for on-street parking on Main and Wooster. Increase the current parking rate as high as $1 per hour. Share the costs: Allocate the cost of maintenance to the downtown property owners. Share the costs with all city property owners through a special assessment. Reduce the costs: Remove meters and enforcement, resulting in all free parking. This still leaves maintenance costs. Go back to all meters. Use meters for parking at premium rates on the street, with free parking behind the stores, which would reduce enforcement needs. Out-source parking operations to a private entity. Sell property for development and/or parking operations. “We really feel we’re at a crossroads here,” Tretter said. Two years ago, the city attempted to move toward the newer trend of parking kiosks. While some like the change, others have difficulty using the kiosks and avoid that parking lot. “We’ve gotten pretty mixed reviews,” Tretter said. “We feel really torn.” Aspacher asked about the cost sharing among downtown property owners. Tretter said the closer a property is to a parking lot, the more money would be charged. The average annual assessments ranged from $27 to $2,000 for owners of several properties in the downtown. Aspacher also said he was intrigued by the possibility of all free parking in the downtown. Some business owners shared that interest. However, some expressed concerns that they had never been approached about the options being considered. Kati Thompson, owner of Eden Fashion Boutique, suggested there is a disconnect…

Firefly Nights announces a Halloween-themed encore festival

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even after a wet start to the evening, the more than 200 people who were around at the end for Friday’s Firefly Night festival, still wanted more music from the closing act Freight Street. So the local folk-rock quintet, fronted by Boo Lee Crosser with singer Flannery Murnen, drummer JP Stebal, bassist Devonte Stovall, and violinist Kathleen Schnerer, obliged. This was to have been end of the three-event community festivals for the season. But organizers also have an encore planned. The businesswomen who spearheaded and organized Firefly Nights in downtown Bowling Green announced at the end of the night that there will be one more festival this year on Oct. 19. The October event will feature the same mix of music, food, kid activities, and shopping, only with a Halloween theme. Working with Downtown Bowling Green, the Firefly Night fest will take the place of downtown treat or treating. Mary Hinkelman, director of Downtown BG, said that the festival was a way to continue the trick or treating while adding more activities both for youngsters and the whole family. Kati Thompson, one of the Firefly founders, said the idea came up through discussions by the organizers. Hinkelman responded favorably to the possibility, and suggested using it to replace downtown trick or treating. With about 2,000 kids taking part last year, the event is becoming unmanageable, she said, with kids having to wait in long lines to get their treats. They then approached the city about the possibilities of staging another festival, which requires closing Main Street in downtown off to traffic. City officials approved. In announcing the event, Thompson said: “Don’t worry we’ll still have plenty of treats for the children, but we’ll combine that with fun for the entire community.” What Halloween activities will be offered and how the treat or treating will be handled is still being discussed. Possibilities include hayrides, a kiddie parade, Halloween and fall themed activities, doughnuts and cider, and even a costume contest for children and adults. Thompson said details will be forthcoming. The Oct. 19 Firefly Nights festival will be held 6-10 p.m., same as the summer events. Friday’s event got off to a soggy start with a downpour shortly after it began. Festivalgoers sought shelter under awnings, and in shops and restaurants. Laura Wicks and Gayle Walterbach, two of the founders, said they expected restaurants did well. Boosting local business is part of the mission of Firefly Nights, they said. But the food trucks that stayed had lines by closing time. Other vendors, however, probably suffered. That’s the nature of an outdoor festival, Wicks said. Both were upbeat at how the summer events had gone, and enthusiastic about the encore to come.  

Think driving downtown will be clear after gas line work? Think again

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green motorists and businesses counting the days till the Columbia Gas work is done downtown should brace themselves for a rude awakening. The gas line replacement work that has shut down lanes and parking in the downtown much of this summer is just the first round of work along Main Street. “You ain’t seen nothing yet,” said Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft. It’s not the city’s intention to make driving and parking difficult in the downtown area – officials are just trying to get necessary work done in a timely fashion. The good news is the downtown streetscape should be good for years once all the work is done. The bad news is the downtown is going to be torn up for another year or so to finish the job. “It’s just a circle of time,” Craft said. And the gas lines, water lines and roadwork all reached the end of their lifespans at the same time. The Columbia Gas work is scheduled to be done in October. But then water and sewer line work is scheduled throughout the winter, followed by repaving and rebricking Main Street next spring and summer. It could be worse, according to Craft. Initially Columbia Gas was planning to do its downtown work in 2019 – which could have meant that Bowling Green would have to repave the downtown streetscape again soon after completing the work. “It isn’t a perfect situation,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said a couple weeks ago. “But we don’t have a choice in the matter.” All the work is necessary – and will result in a safer and better city for residents once it’s all complete, he said. Raquel Colon, external affairs specialist for Columbia Gas of Ohio, said the downtown project which started in June will not be completed until sometime in October. “We have brought some additional crews in to keep the progress moving,” Colon said. The gas line replacement project has taken so long because there are so many individual taps to replace in the downtown area. Unfortunately, the waterline work will be just as time-consuming, Craft said. The old lines are being replaced with new 12-inch lines. And those lines will be buried much deeper, he said. “Ours is going to be cumbersome,” Craft said of the waterline project. “Hopefully it’s a mild winter.” In the spring, the city will shift gears and start working on the downtown streetscape – which involves repaving the downtown plus restoring the bricks in the center of the four corners at Main and Wooster streets. The resurfacing project on Main Street will stretch from Oak to Ordway streets, and on Wooster from Prospect to Church streets. The streets have not been repaved since the Heritage 2000 project downtown. The streets will be paved with a new type of asphalt that is resistant to ruts, Craft said, noting the tire ruts that have appeared in some sections of the downtown. The city was able to secure $900,000 from the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments for the streetscape project. That should pay for all the repaving plus installation of all the ADA ramps in the downtown, Craft said. The city is also planning to replace the red brick area at the…

Cheap parking in downtown BG may soon expire

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Patience has expired with the current parking meter fees to pay for downtown park lot expenses. So on Monday evening, Bowling Green City Council will hear the first reading of an ordinance to double the parking fees from 25 cents to 50 cents per hour. The price hike is proposed because the current parking rates are failing to pay for on-street and off-street public parking expenses in the downtown, explained Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett. All the nickels, dimes and quarters – plus a portion of the parking fines – are supposed to pay for the parking paving, maintenance, enforcement personnel and equipment, parking meters, kiosks, and taxes on the lots. The downtown parking fund gets no support from other city funds. The city’s 2018 budget projected a $21,000 deficit in the parking fund. That hole was filled by the fund’s balance, but that balance is dropping steadily, Fawcett said Friday afternoon. Also looming over the parking budget is the fact that three of the four downtown parking lots need to be paved soon. The only one to be repaved since 2000 is Lot 2,  behind Panera. The proposed fee hikes should not come as a surprise to downtown merchants or the organization which represents them, Fawcett said. “We’ve been trying to tell people as much as we can,” he said. “This is the culmination of conversations over the last couple years.” Downtown businesses were advised of the proposed parking fee hike on City Council’s agenda. “No one seemed surprised by that,” Fawcett said. City officials hope customers coming downtown are not put off by the doubling of the parking fee. Though some may try to avoid pay parking, Fawcett said Bowling Green’s parking will still be a bargain compared to other cities in the region. “We looked around the entire area. Even at 50 cents an hour, we are very competitive,” he said. For at least six years, the parking lot revenue has had difficulty keeping up with the expenses, Fawcett said. In 2013 and 2015, the revenue “just barely” surpassed expenses. In 2014, the city broke even. The last three years, the expenses have been higher than the incoming coins. “It has always been close,” he said. The parking fees, plus a portion of the parking ticket revenue averages about $220,000 a year, Fawcett said. The fee hike is expected to help the fund recover. “I think it would likely provide a temporary relief for that fund,” he said. The parking ticket fees will not be increased. But the long-term parking charges used by apartment renters or businesses downtown are proposed to double. For example, the rate for one space for half a year will jump from $130 to $260. The city’s goal was to gradually change all downtown city parking lots to kiosks rather than metered parking. The lot behind Panera is the city’s first experiment with parking kiosks. “Our desire is to make paying for parking as easy as possible for people,” Fawcett said. If kiosk parking is expanded to other city lots, it’s doubtful it will be the same type as already used in Lot 2, he said. At that point, Lot 2 would be retrofitted to be the same as the other lots. “The ones we…

Chase is banking on former Jed’s site downtown

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Two years after Jed’s served up its last chicken “fireball” in Bowling Green, the site at the downtown four corners is being remodeled to be used as a bank. Chase Bank has signed a lease with owner Bob Maurer for the old Millikin Hotel property at the southeast corner of South Main and East Wooster streets. “They have committed to the site and are actively remodeling it,” Maurer said this morning. J.P. Morgan Chase Bank National Association is still waiting for state and federal approval of the location, but bank officials are confident those approvals will be forthcoming, Maurer said. The site, with its bright yellow storefront, has been sitting vacant for two years. “It needed a lot of work,” Maurer said. “It had been a bar for many years, and it needed a major facelift.” The site gets a lot of vehicular and foot traffic, but no real bites until Chase bank. “We had inquiries, but nothing panned out until Chase came along,” he said. The bank is planning a major remake for the site – investing about $3 million, according to Maurer. “It will be completely new,” he said. Maurer said the downtown location, with no room for a drive-thru window, seemed like an unusual site for a bank. “We did give them numerous alternatives, but they definitely wanted to be downtown at the four corners,” he said. Chase will have a walk-up ATM on the Wooster Street side. The main entrance will be off South Main Street, and will open up into a different type of banking business, Maurer said. “It will almost be like walking into a very nice living room. It won’t be like a typical bank. It will be very formal.”      

Feeling congested? Summer of street closures in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Motorists trying to navigate through Bowling Green this summer have encountered many roadblocks – literally. The downtown is torn up and lanes are shut down as Columbia Gas crews replace natural gas lines. A section of Thurstin was closed earlier this summer for BGSU to work on a utility tunnel. Alternating portions of Manville Avenue have been closed for repaving by the city. And several railroad crossings have been blocked for CSX work this summer. “It’s kind of a perfect storm with Columbia Gas downtown, CSX at the tracks,” along with the city and university projects, said Joe Fawcett, assistant municipal administrator for Bowling Green. When the city notified residents last week that tree trimming on private property would close some spaces in a downtown city parking lot, a citizen responded on Facebook: “If they close any more streets and public spaces in this town, we all need to leave on vacation.” Fawcett understands. “It’s not easy,” getting around some areas of the city this summer, he said. “It isn’t a perfect situation,” Fawcett said. “But we don’t have a choice in the matter.” The city has been issuing frequent notices about which streets and parking areas will be next on the closure list as the work continues. “From the city’s perspective, we’re trying to get the information out so people know how to navigate the work zones,” Fawcett said. All the work is necessary – and will result in a safer and better city for residents once it’s all complete, he said. The gas line work is primarily on Main Street, from Clay Street to Ordway Avenue, but is also extending down some side streets, alleys and into parking lots. The project is part of many upgrades being done to prevent problems with aging lines. The bare steel lines are being replaced with plastic pipes. Initially, the Columbia Gas work was scheduled for 2019. However, since Bowling Green is planning major streetscape work in the downtown next summer, the gas line work was bumped ahead a year. “We wanted them to get in and out before we pave the streets next year,” Fawcett said. Raquel Colon, external affairs specialist for Columbia Gas of Ohio, said the downtown project which started in June will not be completed until sometime in October. “We have brought some additional crews in to keep the progress moving,” Colon said on Wednesday. The project is slow moving because there are 110 customers affected and so many individual lines that have to be replaced. Columbia Gas crews are trying to be sensitive to motorists’ needs, Colon said. “We try not to block any roads in their entirety,” she said. However, the workers need clear work zones to complete the project. “There will still be areas where it slows down a bit,” Colon said. The city is just trying to make the projects as painless as possible. “From our perspective, we want to get them in and out as quickly as possible, so the impact to the citizens and the traveling public is as little as possible,” Fawcett said.  

Firefly Nights fans party on despite gloomy forecast

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News There was more of the lightning bug than lightning about Firefly Nights Friday in downtown Bowling Green. The second street fair in the monthly summer series was staged under the threat of rain – telephone weather reports had ominous lightning bolts for throughout the event. Yet the rain never amounted more than a heavy sprinkle, and people weren’t scared way as they came to enjoy food, vendors, shopping, music, games and visiting. In deference to the predicted storms, the music was moved inside to Howard’s Club H and Doc’s. But when the storms failed to materialize Ryan Roth & The Sideshow did take the outside stage on the north end of the festival to close out the evening. And vocalist Flannery Murnen and guitarist Mike Bryce, who opened the festival with a set indoors, decided to perform a second impromptu show later in the evening outside on the south stage. Though the weather wasn’t as predicted, Firefly Nights came through as promised with more outdoor food options, both food trucks and eateries serving outdoors, more craft vendors, and more activities for the younger set. The third and final Firefly Nights street fair of the season will be held Aug. 17.  

Firefly Nights takes wing with well-received opening street fair

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Firefly Nights, a series of summer festivals spearheaded by a groups of downtown businesswomen, got a huge boost from Mother Nature. Clear skies and temperatures in Goldilocks range, neither too hot nor too cold, set the tone for what organizers and visitors alike declared a success, Friday night. Hundreds of people enjoyed music, shopping, craft booths, activities for children, food, beverages and just hanging out with friends and neighbors, along two blocks of Main Street that were closed to traffic for the evening.. “It was beyond good, it was exceptional. It literally brought tears to all of our eyes to see the overwhelming amount of support we have in the community,” said Stacie Banfield, the owner of Mode Elle Boutique. She along with Laura Wicks, of Grounds for Thought, Kati Thompson, Eden Fashion Boutique, and Gayle Walterbach, of Coyote Beads, banded together early this year to discuss a summer community celebration in downtown. Firefly Nights was launched. Late Friday as they started wrapping up the event, Thompson and Banfield reflected on the first street festival. “This exceeded all our expectations,” Thompson said. “It’s all we could have hoped for and it happened on the first night. Amazing.” The organizers recruited other businesswomen and a mixed-gender crew of 80 to 100 volunteers to help stage the event. Those interested in lending a hand can visit to volunteer. As director of the Bowling Green State University student union, part of Patrick Nelson’s job is to bring visitors to campus. He was impressed by the response to Firefly Nights. “Bowling Green is alive and well tonight,” he said “You couldn’t ask for a better first night.” He and his family, including visitors from New Mexico, came downtown. His family from out of state wondered: “Is it like this every night?” Nelson said he hoped people got a chance to visit the downtown businesses that stayed open late to reacquaint themselves with what’s here. Even as closing hour approached, customers were still coming into Finder’s Records. The store had stayed open an hour later, something it does for Record Store Day and the Black Swamp Arts Festival, and now Firefly Nights. “It’s been very positive for our business,” said clerk Marissa Medley. “It’s really fun.” Zach Baroudi, the owner of Kabob-It, also gave the event a thumbs up He had a food stall out on Main Street. “Everything was perfect,” he said. “Good for the community, good for us, good for surrounding restaurants. We’re very happy with it.” He did a brisk business with a variety of ready to-go Lebanese food selections. His big seller was a chicken combo that won raves from judges during the One-Bite Contest held as a part of Art Walk in April. He was also handing out samples, which helped raise awareness of his restaurant in the 100 block of East Wooster. Photographer Louis Staeble was selling his work on the street. He, too, was using the event to make contacts. And he also sold a number of photos. “It’s fun,” he said, and he hopes after the first festival more people will be know about it and join that fun. “I think it’s cool that they’re supporting all the local businesses,” BGSU student Taylor Kronenberger. She and her friends Tori Dingledein…