Opinion

Support downtown merchants during Olympic Avenue project

After years of planning, the $4.1 million Phase II of the Olympic Avenue Reconstruction Project finally got underway this week and downtown merchants are going to need our support during the six-month project.
To minimize the impact on the local businesses and their customers, the project will be divided into three segments of two blocks each with each segment expected to take about two months. But even so, without the support of the public, the project could negatively impact those businesses.
For many, it is a natural reaction to want to avoid the traffic congestion, delays and inconveniences associated with a road construction project. But to do so would cause the business to suffer significant financial impacts.
The city and its contractor for the project, Strider Construction of Bellingham, have done what they can to mitigate the impacts on the merchants and their customers. The project schedule has been designed to cause the shortest possible interruptions to businesses by dividing the project into three segments and the city has made additional parking available at the north end of Olympic Avenue (adjacent to the Post office) and city staff will be parking off-site to free up more space at the city lot between City Hall and Legion Park.
The businesses are also working together to minimize the possible negative impacts by offering a number of events to attract customers to the area.
The merchants have joined together to offer Hardhat Saturdays (the first of which was April 21) where theyll be handing out hardhats to customers who will wear them on the third Saturday of each month during the construction project to receive discounts and a chance to win a prize. In addition, there will be other events, possibly such things as Sidewalk Superintendent Sales, Hardhat specials or Dirt Cheap Sales, according to the Downtown Merchants. Also scheduled to attract people to downtown, The Arlington Garden Club Plant Sale is slated for April 28 at the City Hall court and the May Hunt and Garage Sale on the Centennial Trail, May 5.
The city has done an outstanding job in keeping the merchants and the public informed during the pre-construction phase of the project and should be commended for their efforts. City staff have attended the weekly merchants meeting, walked Olympic Avenue handing out informational brochures, posted project updates on the citys Web site and more.
The merchants are doing their part by offering special events and sales and doing what they can to make it easy for their customers to do business in downtown Arlington during the construction.
Now it our turn to do our part, to support the local merchants during the construction project by making sure we continue to do business with them despite the road work. The Olympic Avenue businesses are a vital part of our downtown which need our support. To us it may be the matter of a little inconvenience, to them it may be a matter of survival.

To contact a member of The Marysville Globe/Arlington Times editorial board
Kris Passey or Scott Frank e-mail forum@premier1.net.

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