City response to Beacon letter to editor

We have done, within reason, everything we could to keep the pain to a minimum.
By Phil Williams, Public Works Director, City of Edmonds | Nov 15, 2012

I wanted to respond to Mr. Raptis’ letter concerning the Main Street project that is nearing completion between 5th and 6th streets downtown.

Mr. Raptis expresses concern that the City did not do sufficient planning in advance of the project and has not done enough during the project to help businesses along this block survive the construction-related business impacts.

He also questions the entire concept of the project and suggests a better approach would be to eliminate street parking on this block to make it more pedestrian friendly.

I appreciate the frustration that some adjacent business owners must be feeling as they wait for the street to be reopened. To these businesses the 50 working day contract will have seemed much longer by the end of the project.

Even so, I felt it would be important to provide some additional context on this issue.

 

1.   A great deal of planning took place on this project. The concept has been under development for over four years. We have been actively seeking funding for the project from State and Federal sources for the last three years. Once an initial funding source was identified the planning and preliminary design began. We started to immediately meet with adjacent building and business owners on the block. Each was invited to several meetings where project design and schedule were discussed and negotiated. The decision to start the project on September 10 and target completion for November 19 was a joint decision between the City and business community. The dates for these meetings were:

  • April 22, 2011
  • October 11, 2011
  • April 3, 2012
  • September 5, 2012

2.   In addition to meeting with affected businesses the following public meetings were also held to vet the project design and construction schedule:

  • DEMA – May 4, September 7, October 5 – 2012
  • City Council  -  May 15, August 28 - 2012

3.   During construction the City has tried to be as responsive as possible. The following steps have been taken:

  • Provided extensive signage to make the detours around construction as understandable as possible while directing people to available parking nearby. Parking maps were provided to businesses to hand out to their customers. An arrangement was made for overflow parking at a nearby church.
  • “Main Street Businesses are Open” signs were placed in at least a dozen locations to ensure customers were aware that access  was being continuously provided to all businesses on the block
  • Accommodated the temporary loss of parking by providing contractor employee parking at the City Public Safety complex so they would not consume street parking stalls
  • Arranged for parking at the Christian Science Church for overflow customer parking
  • Provided access to the City Hall parking lot and City Hall garage after hours
  • Maintained all-weather access to businesses by leaving  five feet of the original sidewalk in place for the majority of the project
  • The City has increased the intensity of advertising for Edmonds’ businesses during the project
  • Sponsored a “cash mob” on October 19th to focus retail attention on these specific businesses.
  • We have been reminding people on the project’s Variable Message Sign (VMS) located on Main street east of the project limits about sales and specials sponsored by these businesses. (See picture.)

 

The comments regarding the design of the project are well taken but I do not believe we could achieve consensus about removing the 52 on-street parking spaces on this block.

The suggestion to rebate City taxes for just the businesses along this block for the duration of the project is not an option legally.

The project is nearing completion as I write this. We have been blessed with good weather the last two weeks and are making great progress.

We have increased our efforts by working several Saturdays. We will be working both Saturday, Sunday, and Veteran’s Day holiday this weekend to try and pick up some contract days lost due to weather and other unforeseeable events earlier in the project. The City is paying for overtime and other costs associated with that change. We are doing everything we can to bring the project in on the schedule we negotiated with the businesses on this block.

I know this has been difficult for these important Edmonds businesses. We have done, within reason, everything we could to keep the pain to a minimum.

 

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