Editorial: Pull together on downtown

Controversial as it may have been, the Oak Harbor City Council Tuesday night sealed the fate of the downtown stretch of Pioneer Way: It will become a one-way street in 2011.

The council refused to reconsider its initial decision made in December. Opponents were clearly angry, but there’s no going back now. Short of a drive to rewrite the city’s charter to include the rights of initiative and referendum, the decision is final.

Many of the downtown merchants are disappointed and afraid of how a one-way street will impact their businesses. The council majority envisions a one-way street with angle-in parking and wide sidewalks that are pedestrian-friendly. The street will look more attractive, it will be more appealing to visitors and townsfolk alike, and as a result building owners and business owners will make their places more attractive, adding to the appeal.

Many are clearly skeptical of the prevailing vision, but now it’s time for everyone to get on board with it. There is a lot of planning ahead on infrastructure improvements and street design before the one-way plan becomes a reality. City officials set the project back one year to allow more time for public input, and business owners should take advantage of it.

From now on, work hand-in-hand with city officials and make the best one-way street possible. Having angered many business owners, the city will no doubt go out of its way to try to alleviate their remaining concerns, and may be able to come up with some money to help businesses during the construction period.

The one-way decision is made. Now, everyone has to work together toward the common goal of making downtown Oak Harbor an more vibrant and attractive place to shop and do business. On that, we can all agree.

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