Breckenridge Town Council considers extending Main Street closure into September
Mayor, council worry about possible second shutdown, stress preparation
BRECKENRIDGE — The Breckenridge Town Council doesn’t know what fall and winter have in store for the ski town amid the pandemic, but members intend to prepare for several scenarios.
At Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, Town Manager Rick Holman said there needs to be a discussion with council and local businesses about when the current closure of Main Street for pedestrians — and increased outdoor space for businesses — will reopen to vehicle traffic. The town’s Walkable Main Street setup is slated to remain through mid-August.
“We are looking to extend that into September, if the weather allows,” Holman said. “I think just as important, if not more, we want to start hearing from people about what ideas they may have for winter as we get into late fall and winter. Is there something they’ve been looking at or thinking about regarding their property where they may want to try to capture some outdoor space with a heated tent or do something just a little differently?”
Holman then brought up the example of a ski shop in Breckenridge theoretically setting up a tent in a small parking lot in front of its building as an outdoor space during winter to help customers distance.
“All of us sitting here, I think it’s safe to assume things will not be normal as we get to winter,” Holman said. “What do we need to start thinking about now so that we are not scrambling at the last minute, like we had to do for summer to get open?”
Council member Dick Carleton recommended reaching out to the town’s building department as well as the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District to determine what the town could allow in terms of wintertime business frontage. Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula said the council needs to start thinking as a group about the possibility of a “worst-case scenario for fall and winter,” which he described as not “as far fetched as it seemed when we were starting to come out of things and things were good.”
“I think we all really need to start thinking about what happens if Polis decided on an indoor ban like they are starting to do in other states where things are getting out of hand,” Mamula said. “Colorado is starting to track upward. We are not in Summit County but Colorado is. Polis could pull the plug on us instantly, and we need to have some real ideas about how we are going to jump (on) this quickly.
“Are we going to cut loose another million dollars? Do we have another million dollars for rent relief if we get to that point? … Because I think it’s more likely the reality come winter is we either are not any farther along than we are today, and we don’t have the street open — so we’ll have a lot of business that will have considerably less area to do business in for the wintertime — or there’s a big shutdown coming.”
Council member Erin Gigliello asked if it was even possible to close down Main Street during winter. Mamula said he thinks the real question is whether the town decides to extend Walkable Main Street into September because after that “the weather gets too dicey.”
“I think it’s too cold,” Holman said in agreement. “It’s too icy. Trying to deliver food — everything would be a nightmare. I don’t think you could do it.”
With that, the mayor said more communication with the town’s business community was vital.
The conversation then pivoted to how retail and restaurant businesses in town could prepare for curbside delivery and pickup if COVID-19 regulations become stricter. Mamula brought up the idea of individual businesses having select street-facing spaces on certain Main Street blocks where they could engage in business.
Council member Dennis Kuhn said that before the town decides to extend Walkable Main Street into September, he’d like to have “some hard facts” from businesses on whether it was a success.
“The key is going to be (that) the ones in the (Walkable Main Street) area are going to tell you, ‘Yes, it’s been successful,'” Holman said. “The one’s outside of it, maybe not so much.”
Mamula added that businesses like his, with direct frontage on Walkable Main Street, are doing only 60% of the business they’d normally do in July.
“There is nobody that has been made whole by this walkable area,” Mamula said. “It’s considerably better, but no one is whole.”
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