Friday, May 12, 2006

Parking that hurts business

Construction workers and their equipment—bless 'em!—are vital elements in the Ketchum area's economic machinery and should never be underestimated or under-appreciated.

However, the city of Ketchum must quickly find a solution to the Catch-22 headache that widespread construction activity is creating in the downtown retail area as new structures go up with an almost frantic pace in block after block.

Not only is heavy equipment obstructing streets and detouring—if not impeding—traffic, but hundreds of workers are parking their personal vehicles in areas normally used by customers for retail businesses and professional offices.

This has the effect of discouraging shoppers from even looking for parking spaces and bringing business to downtown. This is troubling given that Ketchum's prime retail season in July and August is short. It coincides and collides with the peak of the construction season.

It's also an especially understandable irritant to restaurant operators to see construction workers sitting in their vehicles brown-bagging their lunch in spaces usually reserved for lunchtime customers.

One obvious solution is for construction workers to use the large Park and Ride lot, and for construction firms to develop a shuttle program with their own vehicles for workers or with the city's bus system. This is a traffic and parking management problem. It unquestionably will require new enforcement techniques, perhaps even additional city personnel during the duration of intense construction.

It's just common sense that one economic sector should not be made to suffer because of the good times of another.

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