Breckenridge considers pedestrian-only Main Street to allow for outdoor restaurants and retail

The town of Breckenridge is eerily quiet March 26 without the usual spring break crowds.
Liz Copan /

BRECKENRIDGE — Breckenridge Town Council members gave the go-ahead Tuesday for the Breckenridge Reopening Committee to begin planning an outdoor restaurant setting on Main Street that would close the lanes to vehicles and allow more room for pedestrians.

Town Manager Rick Holman began the discussion by saying council needs to move “full steam ahead” in identifying issues and mapping out a strategy if a pedestrian-only Main Street is something they want to do.

“The big thing, I think, that we as local government and you as a council need to decide is this concept of closing Main Street,” Holman said. “We can’t push this off much longer if we’re going to do it.”

Holman noted that staff has heard more positive than negative feedback from the community and that the idea seems to be supported. Mayor Eric Mamula said he has heard concerns from only one business landlord who is afraid their tenant will move if they don’t have direct vehicle access, but otherwise he has heard positive feedback from both retail and restaurant owners.

“Say we get to a point where you can have 50% of the people that you would normally have in your business,” Mamula said. “This will allow you to have a place for people to either get food and go outside and hang around, maybe have some music. It will allow people to be able to hang out in front of a retail establishment not being just on the sidewalk.”

Mamula pointed out that the sidewalks in the core of town are relatively small, and if the street was open to pedestrian traffic, people could better keep their distance from one another. 

“I think it … sort of opens a festival atmosphere also for people that are coming up here,” Mamula said. “It’s just something a little different for Breckenridge.”

Drawbacks Mamula noted include some increased traffic, lost parking and difficulty around liquor licensing. Town Clerk Helen Cospolich said restaurants could expand their liquor licenses to a broader area, such as a private parking area, through a modification to their license. She said the town potentially could expand businesses’ licenses to public spaces, such as the sidewalks, as well. Mamula asked council whether they were willing to give the idea a try and let the committee move forward in the planning process.

“We’ve been talking about this for years and thinking about closing Main Street, but then we couldn’t because it’s a state highway, and now that’s not an issue,” council member Jeffrey Bergeron said about the highway being rerouted to Park Avenue. “I think now would be a good time to try it just because, what do we have to lose? And I do think we have a fair amount to gain on this, certainly initially.”

Bergeron added that Main Street should be closed to traffic and become a pedestrian walkway for an extended period of time. Council member Gary Gallagher agreed and said that while the pandemic is “bad news,” there is an opportunity for people to experiment with new ideas that could lead to new normals.

Council member Erin Gigliello said the more the town can embrace the new normal and be outside, the better.

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