Petaluma bike and pedestrian advocates will take public comment tonight at a meeting to discuss reopening part of Water Street along the Petaluma River that has been closed to traffic for nine years.

In 2003, the city completed a redevelopment project along the waterfront that revamped the area with benches, a cobblestone promenade at Western Avenue and removed a chunk of parking spaces behind the businesses that front Petaluma Boulevard.

Now the city is planning a "road diet" on the boulevard and some merchants want the parking behind their buildings returned.

The road diet will reduce the number of lanes, but widen them and add a two-way turn lane in the middle. A few parking spaces will be lost downtown, but gained further south.

At the same time, those who enjoy the pedestrian area have grown accustomed to the car-free zone near the Balshaw Bridge. Some residents would like to see all of Water Street become a car-free zone.

The pedestrian and bicycle committee will discuss the issue and make recommendations to the City Council, which will consider the change in September.

Tonight's meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Lucchesi Center, 320 N. McDowell Blvd.

— Lori A. Carter