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Good for the city, or unnecessary bumps along the road?

Fair or unfair, there’s no charge to businesses that use parking spaces for bump-outs. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Dear Action Line: I understand the need for bump-outs for restaurants during COVID. But, why do Durango Rug Co., Outdoorsy and Maria’s Bookshop take up parking places? To make up for revenue lost from 60-plus parking places due to bump-outs, do businesses have to pay for the use of public spaces? – Tae King Spotts

Who remembers when Main Avenue was bereft of parking meters? Ironically, if you say yes you’re probably too old to actually remember. Anyway, Durango, you’ve come a long way since the good old days.

So, why are bump-outs, which will be allowed through Nov. 1, a good thing? Action Line called on Tommy Crosby, Durango’s economic opportunity coordinator with the Community Development Department, to make the case.

Originally, he pointed out, bump-outs were a COVID-19 response in 2020 “to create safe opportunities for businesses to continue providing dining, retail and additional services to customers while there were indoor capacity limits in place.”

Crosby said these bump-outs continue to help both businesses and the customer.

“Bump-outs activate the pedestrian experience in a way that is less car-centric, and encourage people to slow down and spend more time downtown around our local businesses,” he said. “They have allowed space for community to meet safely and connect, while having the fringe benefit of increased visibility for businesses.”

In an attempt to speak the proper language in this context, Action Line will suggest that “synergy” is being created. Or are we no longer using that term?

And no, Crosby added, businesses don’t pay the city. The city has continued its original policy of offering the spaces “to ease the financial strain put on our local businesses because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

To get the business perspective, Action Line bothered Maria’s owner Evan Schertz, who huddled with his dad, Peter, and concocted a response. Maria’s, it should be noted, earned the “Outstanding Bump-Out” honor among the city’s recent Design and Development Awards.

“We’ve created a community gathering place with landscaping and seating,” Schertz said. “Why? So people have a place to gather comfortably downtown and sit and enjoy another beautiful day in Durango. The parklet is a fine place to eat an ice cream cone or sip a cup of coffee from nearby businesses. And it’s a good place to meet friends or to read a book or wait for your table to be ready at Tequila’s restaurant next door.”

Full disclosure: Action Line has been involved in a book-signing or two at the parklet.

“Like the restaurant bump-outs, the Maria’s Bookshop parklet contributes greatly to our business and especially during the pandemic (by the way, is it over yet?),” he said. “… So, we pay the city indirectly for the bump-out – it’s through increased sales tax revenue due to increased retail commerce. … Bump-outs are good for business and the community in a lot of ways.”

Still, Action Line wonders, as many do, if it might be a good idea to add some convenient parking somewhere.

Dear Action Line: I am FRUSTRATED. My wife and I have been attempting to dispose used prescribed medical bottles for two years without success. Pharmacies, Google, neighbors and family members have no answers that have been successful. We have three shopping bags in our garage and are concerned about putting them in the garbage bin since they all have our private information that are on labels securely glued on the bottles. Any ideas? – Robert Charles Paul John

Dear R.C.P.J.: Upon closer reading, you didn’t exactly say if your bottles had pills still in them or not, but I think this answer will suffice in either circumstance. One should be able to dispose a pill bottle without pills using the same method as one with pills, right?

Plus, Action Line has already gotten an answer for you under the assumption that they contained pills. So here’s that answer, which wasn’t exactly simple to come by. It took deep thinking, nights lying awake, crossing of fingers and a series of emails. The Durango Police Department, courtesy of property technician Kyle Dellamore, came through with the answer, but only after going through a similar process. Dellamore did not complain about losing sleep, but that’s just because he is tougher and has undergone more rigorous training for these types of things than has Action Line.

“In the past, DPD accepted those types of items in our lobby, however, we no longer offer that service,” Dellamore said. He confirmed that the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t take pills either.

“After speaking with all of the local pharmacies, the ONLY location that prescription drugs can be disposed of at is Walgreens south, located in Town Plaza,” he said.

Action Line contacted a pharmacist at Walgreens, who said the drop-off location is a white mailbox-looking thing located in an area of the pharmacy that does not get locked up when the pharmacy closes. In other words, whenever Walgreens is open, you can drop off pill bottles.

Also, Dellamore said that Durango Police, in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Agency, holds a biannual pill-return event each April and October at the police substation in Three Springs. This year’s fall event is Oct. 29.

“In all cases, owners’ personal identification need not be removed from the bottles,” he said. “If someone would prefer to empty out their pills into one bag that is OK, but not necessary. Crossing out your name with a black marker could also be an option for additional peace of mind.”

Dellamore said feel free to ask more questions, so Action Line asked when the fall event was and was told – again – that it was Oct. 29. Dellamore did not call Action Line an idiot for not reading his original response very carefully, which was very nice of him.

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. If you’re wondering when the Oct. 29 event will be held to return unused prescription pills, it’s Oct. 29.

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