Breckenridge discusses plans for helping struggling businesses
Town Council will send a letter to Gov. Jared Polis expressing concerns about restrictions
At its Tuesday work session, Breckenridge Town Council discussed what could be done about the dire state many local businesses have found themselves in under level red restrictions.
The council decided to expand relief and have the town’s resiliency committee brainstorm solutions. Members also decided to send a letter to Gov. Jared Polis asking for help.
Mayor Eric Mamula, who owns Downstairs at Eric’s, explained that one of the main fears among restaurant owners is that employees will start to leave Summit County to go to neighboring counties in lower risk levels where restaurants are open to indoor dining. Then when Summit County reopens, there won’t be enough employees left in town.
“If we don’t get open by the 18th … if this lasts past Christmas or past New Year’s, we will lose a bunch of businesses, some of whom have been in this community a long time and have been great contributors to this community for a long time,” Mamula said.
Mamula questioned whether restaurants are really the problem if virus case numbers aren’t improving while restaurants are closed.
Council member Jeffrey Bergeron asked whether it would be feasible to close Main Street to vehicle traffic again, but Mamula said it would be very difficult in the winter with plowing.
Town Manager Rick Holman said the resiliency committee and any council members who want to participate should do some brainstorming and then work to implement any ideas as soon as possible.
“We may have to get together and discuss some strategies and what we’re willing to allow that normally we wouldn’t,” Holman said.
Bergeron said he would “consider doing anything in the short term.”
The resiliency committee met Wednesday, Dec. 9, and a special council meeting to discuss ideas is scheduled for Dec. 22.
Council member Dick Carleton, who co-owns Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant and Hearthstone, said he’s ready to advocate that restaurants get back to 25% capacity, citing “conflicting data” on whether restaurants are causing COVID-19 spread.
He threw out ideas such as canopies to block snow for outdoor dining or organizing delivery services as a town or county.
Mamula suggested writing Polis a letter, and Carleton suggested sharing concerns that resort communities were not well understood or fully considered when the new COVID-19 dial framework was developed.
“It doesn’t work for us in my opinion,” Carleton said about the dial framework. “When you just close restaurants and you don’t address ski areas and lodging, the chances of success are slim to none.”
Council member Kelly Owens said she was in support of writing to ask how the state could help the community but was hesitant to say the state should reopen restaurants.
“I still want to do right by our community and public health first and foremost, so that’s where I feel a little bit of caution,” Owens said. … “It’s our responsibility to keep the community safe, it’s just so hard right now because the answer is not clear.”
Council members also discussed expanding the criteria for rent relief, which originally only applied to restaurants, to include other businesses that have been impacted by level red restrictions. Businesses that have had a significant reduction in capacity, such as those that are down to 10% or those that can demonstrate a significant loss in revenue compared to 2019, are on the list to be considered.
Decisions on extending aid criteria will be finalized at the special meeting Dec. 22.
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