I'd like to clarify some misconceptions. Many businesses oppose the Next Steps plan not because they’re afraid of change, but because there was no real consideration of how the construction closures and the designs would affect them. A handful of businesses were included in the early “stakeholders” meetings. After the first survey, which one in 25 business people I spoke with ever even saw, their objections and suggestions were never considered. Now, without much scrutiny from City Council, the plan is like a runaway train and going out for bids.
Retailers who learned years ago that closing Main Avenue for festivals hurt their businesses by halting traffic and reducing access, were never even consulted about festival blocks on their doorstep! Suggestions such as putting festivals on Second Avenue or Buckley Park, where they've been successful, were ignored.
Concerns that adding furniture and social gathering spaces would re-attract vagrancy? Ignored.
Seventy-five business owners and managers on Main Avenue, including many of our largest property owners, signed a letter asking City Council to slow down this process and build a parking structure first. They were ignored too.
Business owners know their customers and how lack of access and parking turn them away. They are smart or they wouldn't have survived fires, recessions, online shopping and a pandemic. They contribute to wages, charm and the vitality of Durango. They deserve to be heard. The planners say they talked to a lot of people. Sure, they talked but did they listen? Clearly not.