Cities pay the price for beautiful streetscapes ~ Hollister

HOLLISTER
– A worker hoses down a portion of Sally Street to keep the dust
down during work on downtown streets. In the long run, it’s for the
best.
But until it’s finished, Hollister’s Downtown Beautification
Project is an inconvenience for the business owners who will
eventually benefit from the clouds of dust and skinned sidewalks
that accompany their storefronts.
HOLLISTER – A worker hoses down a portion of Sally Street to keep the dust down during work on downtown streets. In the long run, it’s for the best.

But until it’s finished, Hollister’s Downtown Beautification Project is an inconvenience for the business owners who will eventually benefit from the clouds of dust and skinned sidewalks that accompany their storefronts.

The project, which began a couple of weeks ago, is moving along at a breakneck pace that Redevelopment Agency Director Bill Avera wasn’t expecting. Avera envisioned the workers having to clean up and come back to put the finishing touches on the project after the July 4 Independence Rally, but work should be done before that, he said.

“It’s a pleasure to have things be going really right,” Avera said. “The weather is definitely helping – as long as it stays like this, it should move right along.”

While the sidewalk is torn up and construction trucks block parking spaces in front of his comic book store, Bill’s Bullpen owner Bill Mifsud is pleased with the level of communication facilitated by the workers.

“They’re keeping us in tune with everything,” Mifsud said. “We’ve asked them to do things for us, and they’re doing everything we’ve asked.”

Laying gravel in a portion of sidewalk leading up to his front door on Fourth Street and trying to keep pace with their scheduled time table is appreciated, even though the commotion has definitely impacted business, said Mifsud, who has received quite a few calls from customers asking if he is still open for business during the renovations. According to his numbers, business is down about 20 percent.

“For me personally, is it going to look nice? Yes. Does it need it? No,” he said. “Is it a headache? Yes, a big headache.”

Currently, crews with the construction company McGuire and Hester, who got the job with the lowest bid of $3.4 million, are working on portions of Fourth and Fifth streets.

The project is being financed from the recently enhanced Redevelopment Agency, which received a $35 million bond issuance and will have no effect on the city’s General Fund.

The lines of communication haven’t been as clear for Garcia’s Jewelry manager Art Garcia, whose store is located on Fifth Street. While he concedes that it will look much better when it’s finished, the work in front of his store has taken longer than he was originally told, and he hasn’t been informed as to why.

“We didn’t even know they were going to pour concrete yesterday,” he said. ”They said they were going to give us a day’s notice, but it was just all of a sudden. This is a big inconvenience. … It’s been slow for us because people can’t get through.”

Workers are trying to keep with a 15-day time schedule with each portion, so businesses on the one- or two-block area under construction aren’t impacted for too long, Avera said.

“Most people know it’s coming down the pike and are preparing themselves for it,” he said. “It’s a hassle right now, but once it gets done it will never happen again.”

The total project area encompasses San Benito Street from Third Street to Hawkins Street, Monterey Street from South Street to Third Street, and East Street from South Street to Third Street.

Complaints concerning parking, noise and general inconvenience have been kept to an overwhelming minimum, assistant city engineeer Matt Atteberry said. The contractors with McGuire and Hester have prioritized establishing good communication with business owners, and, so far, it has been well-received, he said.

“Everyone understands it’s a win-win situation,” Atteberry said.

David Talavera, owner of the Hollister Barber Shop on Fifth Street, said he doesn’t feel the construction is that bothersome to his business or his customers, except for some annoying parking issues. Talavera books all his customers by appointments, and they find their way in just fine.

“For me, it’s business as usual, aside from a little dust and a little noise,” he said.

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