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Businesses face construction challenges

Posted: Tuesday, Apr 30th, 2013

Photo by Toni Steffens-Steward Roni Wisdom marks parking areas during a discussion on how to keep businesses running during upcoming downtown construction.

MONTE VISTA— Businesses located along Highway 160 in Monte Vista are working to minimize disruptions, during the upcoming construction project.

Construction will begin in mid to late-May and will shut off access to business entrances while sidewalks are torn up and reworked. To help local businesses plan for the inevitable disruptions the city of Monte Vista organized a cone zone meeting with Roni Wisdom of the San Luis Valley Resources Development Group.

Local businesses were invited to attend the meeting to hear suggestions that Wisdom and others learned while a similar project was done in Alamosa. Wisdom said work in that city, “put some of them out of business.”

In an effort to ensure the conversation of the meeting focused on how businesses could market during construction, City Administrator Don Van Wormer said he publicized the event by sending out letters to specific downtown businesses. Unfortunately, some business owners reported that they had received more than one notice, while others did not receive any notice. Still, more than a dozen people attended the meeting representing a number of local businesses.

During the meeting, those business representatives along with Van Wormer and Wisdom discussed ways to encourage shoppers to use businesses’ back doors during construction. Suggestions included creating a slogan, painting all of the back doors red, creating symbols or directional indicators to lead visitors to parking options, hanging banners and creating signs to direct visitors to alternate entrances and parking.

Sales and other incentives can help encourage shopping. Wisdom said that it is also important to make sure that everyone in the business keeps a positive attitude about the project. She says, “keeping your sense of humor is huge.”

This construction project will differ from work completed by the city last fall by operating during the day. Work will likely take place from Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Van Wormer told the crowd that there would be one lane of traffic open through the city at all times.

Once the construction is completed, the sidewalks will be extended and the highway will have one lane going in each direction and a turn lane in the center. The city of Monte Vista is purchasing the lighting poles downtown, which will allow them to hang holiday and other banners.

Another meeting was scheduled for April 23 to discuss financing concerns during the project. The group also planned to continue their discussion about marketing.

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