Walkable Main to stay through September; winter planning underway in Breckenridge
BRECKENRIDGE — Breckenridge Town Council decided to begin reopening Main Street to vehicle traffic Sept. 28 at a special Town Council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 4.
Results from the business survey conducted by the Breckenridge Tourism Office showed support for extending Walkable Main into the fall. The survey was open for seven days and received 88 responses. Of those, 83% supported extending Walkable Main into September. The Tourism Office concluded that support for keeping the pedestrian Main Street open into September is strong across three business segments — lodging, restaurants and retail — but that support waivers for extending the date any further than that because of uncertainty around winter operations.
With varying plans for school start dates and online learning across the country, Mayor Eric Mamula said he thinks there will be more travelers this fall, which he cited as another reason to continue Walkable Main through September. He proposed reopening the street to vehicle traffic Sept. 28, and council members agreed. However, Town Manager Rick Holman said the reopening would have to be coordinated with the public works department and that while work to reopen the road could begin Sept. 28, it might not officially open until the next day.
Council member Erin Gigliello said the extension is not only a good option for restaurants and retail shops but also allows for physical distancing, which she thinks has contributed to the lower rate of infection in town. Council member Dick Carleton was in support of extending the closure through September but said the ending date should be firm.
Assistant Town Manager Shannon Haynes noted that the oktober-FEAST event from Sept. 26 to Oct. 4 will feature participating restaurants who create food and beer pairings within the restaurant but will not require the closure of Main Street. So far, Haynes said 20 restaurants have expressed interest.
Planning for winter
Also at the special meeting, council discussed plans for navigating winter during a pandemic.
Mamula asked council members whether they were in support of leaving the local emergency ordinances, including the mandatory mask zone, in place through the duration of the pandemic. Council was mostly in agreement; however, Carleton said the restaurant and bar curfew should be played “by ear.”
“I also think we need to do a service to everyone in the community and not lose sight of the fact that we’re going to have a massive change in groups in about a month,” council member Kelly Owens said. “So I want to be really cautious about fiddling with anything else because we’re going to have thousands of kids going back to school. … Let’s not lose sight of that as a town.”
Holman suggested the town start considering safe activities for people to do in winter, particularly outdoors, as there might be capacity limits at ski areas. Mamula suggested some type of art or animation around the Breckenridge troll, and council member Jeffrey Bergeron suggested physically distanced snowshoe tours.
Gigliello noted that there could be more novices in the backcountry and that the town might want to put out more messaging about safety this year.
As for dining, Mamula said the town should coordinate with public works to make sure people easily can pick up takeout items in the winter, and he suggested designated parking spaces for takeout. Holman said unused buildings could be used for nontraditional purposes, and Mamula floated the idea of using the Riverwalk Center as a place for people to eat takeout food.
Council also discussed the potential of another shutdown. Holman said the town can make further cuts in the budget if necessary, such as shutting down the trolly.
Council meets next on Tuesday, Aug. 11.
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