Letters to the Editor

Experiment puts merchants at risk

We’ve invested in our buildings and possibly mortgaged our futures in order to enhance our downtown. Physically, over the last five years, downtown has been transformed with positive results.

A number of years ago, we formed the Harborside Merchants Association, first and foremost to promote the Roger Brooks and Windjammer projects in order to act as a lobbying body with the city. We hope to be a positive force for improvement. Members of our association sat on the Windjammer Committee through two years of planning. Through all that investment, involvement and planning there was never the consideration of a one-way street.

Many of us, vested in downtown, are concerned about the effects of a one-way street revision on business. We believe a two-way plan gives our customers the best access to our businesses, without disrupting their existing habits. Those habits are valuable to all of us and have taken years of work, advertising and dollars to establish.

John D. Edwards, with 35 years in traffic, planning and parking, stated in an article in “Main Street News,” in June 2002, that “perhaps the most important reason for changing the traffic flow of a downtown street is to improve the economic well being of the commercial district. A survey of 25 towns and cities that have converted their main streets (from one-way to two-way) show that many have experienced significant reductions in vacant floor space after the conversion. All the communities surveyed reported positive results after converting their one-way street to two-way traffic, and many reported substantial private investment, stimulated by conversions that coupled with Streetscape projects.”

I firmly believe a one-way street can be potentially devastating to business in downtown. There are no guarantees, and you are putting us all at risk for what is essentially an experiment.

There are positive elements of the streetscape plan that can be implemented without a one-way street. Where is equal time spent on the impact of a one-way street on business?

Moving ahead without adequate research is irresponsible. I also understand that this administration wants to be the one to finally implement a plan. (Any plan?) Just don’t throw the businesses out with the bath water. Your legacy could be a ghost town.

Jill Schacht

Owner, Casual House (46 years in downtown Oak Harbor)

Owner, Fox Pointe Home

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