Opinion | Linda Harmon: Frisco is the heart of Summit County | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Linda Harmon: Frisco is the heart of Summit County

Frisco sits in the heart of Summit County, and I’m proud to say I started my Summit County residency in Frisco. Many of us residents were anxious to learn the fate of Frisco’s promenade. At first, I was disappointed to hear that the Frisco Town Council decided to not bring back the promenade in 2022. But after listening to the Town Council meeting, I believe the future looks bright for the Frisco promenade under the forward-thinking leadership of Mayor Hunter Mortensen and Mayor Pro Tem Jessica Burley!

A recent survey conducted by the town showed that 85% of Frisco residents who participated in the survey supported having the promenade. But the council expressed concern around two issues: the inequity for the businesses outside the promenade and the fact that the town was not originally designed for a walking promenade. They would also like to see more appropriate long-term signage and control how businesses use the outdoor parklets.

Council member Melissa Sherburne said, “I think we need to taper back the sidewalk sale atmosphere. It really did start feeling like it had a flea market look to it.”

I was pleased to hear that Mortensen and Burley were not against the promenade continuing and agreed with having the proper planning to create the infrastructure needed to make it a more permanent pedestrian walking mall during the summers. Sherburne explained that “our street is not designed for a promenade. Let’s set the vision and do the work needed to make it work.”

While Mortensen agrees that work needs to be done, he feels “the town actually has the perfect situation with the Historic Park and the layout of Main Street.” Mortensen also pointed out during the council meeting that “if you research on Aspen’s East Cooper Street or Boulder’s 16th Street Mall, they also had these discussions and concerns before they turned those areas into permanent walking areas.” Council member Rick Ihnken reinforced this by adding, “I think we need to invest in putting in the supporting infrastructure to make the promenade even more successful than it’s been.”

The success of the 2021 promenade can be seen from the increase in sales taxes collected in 2021. Compared to 2019, businesses inside the promenade saw a 23% increase while businesses outside the promenade saw a 14% increase. The Frisco staff survey showed that 73% of residents responding support doing the promenade in 2022, and 59% of the businesses support the continuation.

“The benefit goes far beyond what the survey shows,” Mortensen said. “The money earned from Summit Boulevard to the hospital has grown because of the promenade. I think the benefit to the entire community is huge.”

The promenade is supported and used by residents throughout Summit County. It’s one of the highlights of the county because it sits geographically in the middle, with easy access throughout Summit.

Mortensen hopes the town’s traffic flow study of Granite and Galena streets will provide some of the solutions to address issues with the promenade. But he also acknowledges that only he and Burley are enthusiastic about moving forward with a study to evaluate how to make the promenade a more permanent summer walking area. In contrast, council member Andy Held said “that the Colorado Department of Transportation engineers will absolutely not allow the street closure to be extended to the last two blocks of Main Street, closest to Highway 9.” This will continue to hamper those businesses on Main Street located outside the promenade.

Mortensen says he knows it’s an uphill battle since only two council members are really excited about continuing the promenade during the summers. Frisco residents who support Mortensen and Burley’s enthusiasm for making the summer promenade permanent can influence Frisco’s future by voting for pro-permanent promenade candidates during the April 2022 election. Three not-so-supportive candidates are up for reelection, and your vote could determine the fate of the promenade.

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