Our View: Just do it | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Just do it

Editorial board

Suzanne Schlicht, publisher and COO

Lisa Schlichtman, editor

Jim Patterson, assistant editor

Tom Ross, reporter

Dennis Fisher, community representative

Ed MacArthur, community representative

Enimie Reumaux, community representative

At issue

The upcoming Yampa Street construction project will be an inconvenience regardless of how it is undertaken

Our view

It’s best to proceed with the project according to a linear schedule and without summer interruption, while taking steps to ensure the impact it minimized

There can be little argument that the long-discussed and soon-to-begin construction project on Yampa and Oak streets will ultimately benefit everyone, from visitors to residents to the numerous businesses that call the riverfront stretch of Yampa Street home.

The only major drawback — and, admittedly, it’s major — is the timing.

In response to concerns raised by businesses on Yampa — which see the lion’s share of their commerce during the summer tourist season — city staff had originally recommended a City Council mandate stipulating no work would occur between Sixth and Eighth Streets — the busiest sector of Yampa — between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the busiest time of the year.

Council members ultimately rejected this recommendation, opting instead to offer the project for bid under two options: The first would allow as many as two blocks of the street to be closed at a time, with no restrictions on the timing of the work, and the second would include the May 30 to Sept. 5 work freeze.

We think the first option — undertaken with careful planning and allowances to mitigate the inconvenience — is, far and away, the best.

There are drawbacks to both options. The first, by allowing work during the busy summer months, would more seriously impact businesses in the short term. The second, by prohibiting work during the prime three months of our brief construction season, would extend the work — and with it, the inconvenience and the cost — to encompass several summer seasons.

Our view

It’s best to proceed with the project according to a linear schedule and without summer interruption, while taking steps to ensure the impact it minimized

The fact is, there’s never a good time to undertake a major construction project in a busy commercial area, and our short construction season — which happens to correspond with the Yampa Street district’s busiest commercial period — only complicates the issue.

But we think a systematic, linear approach to the work, one that establishes clear expectations for what will happen, where it will happen and when it will happen, would both allow businesses to plan for the inconvenience and minimize the overall timeframe and longterm impact of the project.

We realize, of course, Yampa Street businesses — a significant source of sales tax revenue and a big part of Steamboat Springs’ overall allure — will still be impacted, and there are steps the city should take to lessen this impact. These include the following.

■ Establish a linear timeline that clearly defines when and for how long the work will affect various segments of the street.

■ Ensure clear, safe access to all the affected businesses is retained throughout the project.

■ Help with downtown signage telling people Yampa Street remains open for business and directing them there, and perhaps even consider suspending the prohibition on sandwich-board signs.

■ Make an exception to the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. construction window to allow work between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. for the duration of the project.

There’s no way around the negative construction impact, and we’re not insensitive to that, but a well-planned, linear approach will ensure the impact isn’t crippling. One need look no further back than the 2009-2010 Lincoln Avenue rework to see the short-term inconvenience will ultimately be more than outweighed by the long-term benefits.

The Yampa/Oak Street project has been being discussed for decades and has been a need for longer than that.

Now’s the time to rip off the bandage and get it done.

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