Opinion | Kim McGahey: Good riddance to Walkable Main, outdoor mask mandate
Conservative Common Sense
At long last, the Breckenridge Town Council is showing some backbone and making decisions that benefit the people: Abandoning the outdoor mask mandate and walkable Main Street are decisions that are to be applauded.
There has been no science to support the outdoor mask mandate for the past year. There have been ambivalent directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some in favor and some not. Yet the council blindly followed Gov. Jared Polis’ dial of repression making life on Main Street unbearably restrictive.
Pedestrians have been languishing somewhere between walking dead and Nazi brownshirts, some floating listlessly along the sidewalk with a dazed and confused look in their eyes, barely poking out above their mask, and being unable or unwilling to make eye contact with fellow passersby.
Their obvious suffering from lack of interpersonal, nonverbal communication was causing them to feel detached from the normal love and comfort that our historic Main Street used to provide. Not being able to smile on the walkway made people retract from greetings and shy away from the normal interactions that have always made strolling Main Street one of the prime activities of any Breckenridge vacation.
Then there were the more sinister actors on Main Street, who assumed the misplaced responsibility of acting as enforcers of the government-imposed mask mandate. These sidewalk vigilantes took it upon themselves to patrol the pavement and deliver hateful glares of disapproval and snide remarks to any violators. Some would even take cellphone photos of pedestrians and send them to the local thought police.
Even though not a single person was fined in Breckenridge for a mask ordinance violation, the sidewalk Nazis were a veritable threat to freedom-loving visitors and residents without the required face covering.
And then there were the intimidating signs plastered all over the town threatening violators of the mask mandate with punishment per the town code. Not a very welcoming gesture to the thousands of tourists traveling from free states to our heretofore friendly mountain resort town on winter vacation.
Some of those visitors, by their own admission, will never return because of the unnecessarily draconian measures taken by the Town Council. Many will seek less restrictive resort communities where they can escape the hard-driving regulations of the real world and relax and enjoy a more laid back, laissez-faire week in the mountains.
Now, with the winter behind us and summer around the corner, the walkable Main Street trial balloon has finally been popped, and we are luckily returning to maskless pedestrians partaking of jolly fellowship and cruising the many interesting shops and businesses on Main Street that suffered last summer from the thoroughfare being blocked.
A restaurant owned by a Town Council member prospered with Main Street closed, but many businesses on and off Main Street suffered unnecessarily.
Many tourists are not used to our 9,600-foot elevation and find it physically difficult to walk 10 blocks down Main Street and back to their cars. Instead, they find it more convenient and less physically demanding to park on Main, explore a few blocks on foot and then move the car down Main Street a few blocks and continue exploration there until they have seen it all. Without Main Street parking, these lowlanders would explore only a couple of blocks and then call it quits, thereby depriving many local businesses of their patronage.
Restaurants and shops should be encouraged this summer to use all available outdoor spaces for exterior seating and merchandise displays, thus increasing the marketplace ambiance of Main Street dining and shopping. But blocking Main Street was a bad idea for most business owners who are relieved to have more shoppers, more diners and more strollers passing by their open doors.
With these two breakthrough decisions by the Town Council, maybe we can return some semblance of normalcy to our blasted, beloved Main Street and get back to watching people of all ages smiling while walking down our peaceful, picturesque promenade.
Kim McGahey’s column “Conservative Common Sense” publishes Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. McGahey is a real estate broker, tea party activist and former Republican candidate. He has lived in Breckenridge since 1978. Contact him at email@example.com.
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