Hampton business man starts petition to reopen Ocean Boulevard

A petition has been created to get vehicles moving again on Ocean Boulevard in Hampton Beach.

The traffic was stopped to make room for social distancing, but some business owners say it’s doing more harm than good.

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Back in May barriers went up, traffic patterns changed, and Ocean Boulevard became a walking mall.

It was the state’s answer to a problem that many restaurants and shops were faced with — how to accommodate locals and tourists under COVID-19 guidelines that limit capacity.

This has not however been a welcome change for all.

Robert Preston started a petition to get Ocean Boulevard back open.

“Some are enjoying 20% increases in their business. Some of us are experiencing -40%. The gas station is -50%, ice cream -43%,” said Preston.

The former state senator has collected some 700 signatures from Hampton residents and plans to pass it on to Gov. Sununu.

“Sometimes when you take action, the reaction is worse,” said Preston. “I think the governor has been given bad advice on this one. Not to criticize him.”

Preston says the detour has put a strain on ‘O’ Street resulting in safety concerns for residents.

He also adds the current layout has adversely affected the rights of people to access their properties.

“The south end of the beach is completely disenfranchised. It’s just not fair,” said Preston.

Others say this new layout has been a lifeline and saved them from what would have been a devastating season.

Jim Trainor owns two restaurants on Ocean Boulevard and credits the plan for keeping them afloat.

“Personally, I love it,” said Trainor. “It was able to give the tourists really a better time down here. We would not have been able to open without opening this street.”

Trainor says he’d like to see the idea come back again.

“I think with some tweaks and maybe a little change in the traffic patterns. We can make something that could work best for all.”

WMUR reached out to the governor’s office for comment but did not hear back as of Saturday night at air-time.

Ocean Boulevard is scheduled to reopen Sept. 8.


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