Frisco Pedestrian Promenade won’t return next summer

Jim and Cheryl Curtiss of Victoria, Minnesota, relax outside of Next Page Books & Nosh in Frisco on June 26. Frisco Town Council will not bring back the Pedestrian Promenade for 2022.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily News

While the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, Frisco Town Council doesn’t see a need for the Frisco Pedestrian Promenade to return for summer 2022 with occupancy restrictions mostly in the past. However, parklets might still be a Main Street fixture.

Opinions of the promenade have been mixed from businesses. When it came back for a second summer in June, co-owner of Next Page Books & Nosh Lisa Holenko said she was a fan of the aesthetics and safety it provided.

Later in the summer, Frisco Lodge owner Susan Wentworth didn’t see the value in it past 2020. She said businesses didn’t have the staff to handle the additional seating and the closure negatively impacted her business.

The town has done multiple surveys on the issue. The March results had more than 85% of the 320 respondents saying they want to see the promenade back, with an April survey resulting in 21 of 33 businesses stating they would like the additional space.

October survey findings were presented at the Town Council work session Tuesday, Oct. 26. Out of 412 responses, with 71 identifying as owners or managers of Frisco businesses and 277 as Frisco residents, 73.3% wanted the promenade to return. Of the businesses, 58.8% said they would use the space if it was available. Community Development Director Don Reimer noted that there is virtually no change in opinion due to the small sample sizes.

Some council members, like Andy Held, said they personally liked the promenade but don’t like its inequity.

“I’m getting, ‘You are crushing me,’ from businesses outside the promenade,” Held said Tuesday. “… As soon as we closed the promenade, it lightened up for them. They made more money than they did before.”

Council member Melissa Sherburne is also a fan of a promenade in theory, but she said Main Street wasn’t designed for it. She added that she wasn’t a fan of the ad hoc nature, the large and haphazard detour signs, or that some expansions had a flea market look to them in certain places.

“I found myself wanting to avoid the area of downtown all together, especially on peak weekends,” Sherburne said. “And I know that was not the goal, and that’s not the way I felt in 2020.”

Though she is unsure about the data surrounding the inequity claims, she said she did hear negative responses from business owners, as well.

The town looked at sales tax revenue data from businesses inside the promenade versus outside and compared this year with 2019. A 23% increase in revenue was found for inside businesses, while there was a 14% increase for the ones outside of the closure.

Council member Jessica Burley said she didn’t want to put weight on the increase because it doesn’t tell the whole story, yet she said they don’t know how much of it is driven by the promenade.

“I would like to continue to learn and grow and continue to have that amenity for our community and our visitors,” Burley said.

Mayor Hunter Mortensen also wanted the promenade to return and thinks the town will see the same backlash Breckenridge Town Council did when it decided to not continue Walkable Main despite support reflected in surveys.

“I’m sad to see it go,” he said. “I’ve probably never seen more people taking a picture of a street in my life, and I don’t think we will again until we bring it back and do it right.”

With the Pedestrian Promenade no longer being pursued, parklets — essentially portable decks on town parking spaces — might be the summer compromise. A future work session will discuss how exactly the parklets will be implemented.

The $75,000 that was allocated in the 2022 budget for the promenade will now go toward improvements on Granite Street.

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