December 20, 2014

Elyria
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Some Elyria businesses give thumbs down to movie shoot

ELYRIA — The scene: Broad Street in downtown Elyria.

It’s Thursday afternoon and the sun is shining, but Loomis Camera employee Tom Peters looks as though his thoughts are dark and brooding. Across the street in Ely Square, a few filmmakers are working on a scene for an independent film.
Peters pouts his lip, shoots a disapproving glance at the park and the film crew, and settles on a line of his own: “Because some
director doesn’t want to see cars in his shot, we have to do without business all day?”

JASON MILLER / CHRONICLE
Most of Ely Square was closed to traffic for the filming of an independent movie Thursday.

The opinions of Peters and a few downtown Elyria business folks were a mixed bag Thursday as they weighed in on the city’s decision to close streets around Ely Square to accommodate some out-of-town moviemakers.

There were plenty of scripted emotions in the park gazebo as actors delivered their lines, but the real drama was playing out in places like The Barber’s Blend, where owner Robert Waters was trying to keep his frustration in check.

“I had a customer who’s on oxygen and had to walk farther to get here because there were no parking spaces,” Waters said.

“Parking is at such a premium downtown, even when it’s not shut down … it just wasn’t real good of the city.” 
Peters agreed.

“The loss of just 11 parking spaces means an incalculable number of people drove by today and didn’t stop here to buy anything,” Peters said. “We’re not ever going to profit from the fact that a movie was shot in Elyria — even if it was a Martin Scorsese film.”  
Like every good conflict, other business owners enjoyed the hoopla.

“If this brings some excitement and something different to downtown Elyria — something that might get good press and show downtown in a positive light — I’m for it,” said Greg Dempsey, owner of Journey Around Music on Broad Street. “There’s not a whole lot that happens in downtown Elyria that seems to attract young kids from different demographics.”

Brian Fehlan, owner of Fehlan Insurance on Middle Avenue, took a less emotional, Bruce Willis-like stance. The front window of his business office offered an unimpeded view of the filmmaking. 

“I’ve been here all day, and it looked to me like they were shooting the same scene over and over again,” Fehlan said, chuckling. “It’s just one of those things — I guess that’s how it works.”

At Downtown Elyria Fitness Center, employee Katie Norris figured her business was the last place where customers would complain about walking from distant parking spaces.

“Today’s been a little slow, but it could just be from the nice weather,” Norris said. “We’ve still had our faithful regulars.”
Regulars like Tom Stark.

“I started my fitness routine a block away, before I ever got in here,” Stark said.

A few business owners were miffed that city officials didn’t send letters alerting business owners about the four-day road closing. Said Jermaine Little, owner of J&R Hair Service: “They should at least have put out a memo. But the parking is funny downtown anyway, so it didn’t really affect us.”

Mayor Bill Grace said he thought the city covered its bases.

“It was on the front page of the newspaper, showing them a map and what was going to happen,” Grace said. “It was pretty substantial coverage.”

But Grace said the next time a movie is shot downtown, a letter will be sent out.

“It’s a team effort among all the other businesses and Main Street and the city,” Grace said. “We can point fingers, but it’s also important that everyone pitch in and help out.”

As a head’s up, Grace reminded business owners that they’ll see a similar situation next week.

“Those concerned about traffic might want to be aware that there’s an Apple Festival next week,” Grace said. “That’ll have an impact on traffic patterns and parking patterns.”

Fehlan had no complaints: “At least I can go out and get some food at that one.”

Contact Shawn Foucher at (440) 653-6255 or sfoucher@chroniclet.com.