Businesses brace for downtown construction

Gilroy
– Downtown business owners met with city officials this week to
learn how they will be affected by a major street renovation
project along Monterey street.
Gilroy – Downtown business owners met with city officials this week to learn how they will be affected by a major street renovation project along Monterey street.

The final phase of the “streetscape” project, which began in the late ’90s, will mean a closure of Monterey Street, between Fourth and Sixth streets, for about nine months beginning in early 2006, according to officials. That strip of Monterey contains the highest density of the street’s remaining open businesses.

The roughly 20 to 30 business owners at the Monday meeting plied officials with questions about the construction schedule, what the street will ultimately look like, and how their businesses will be affected, according to City Transportation Engineer Don Dey.

The upgrades will resemble those performed further south on Monterey Street, between Eighth and Sixth streets. They will include sidewalk widening, the installation of decorative street lamps, tree plantings, and the elimination of the winding median. Unlike earlier phases, engineers designed the street to include angled parking – a change expected to double the amount of spaces on the street.

Business owners at the meeting expressed particular concern about tree plantings, Dey said.

“The tree, when you plant it, is small,” he said. “When the tree is large and the canopy is there, it’s not a problem. It’s that intermediate period between two and 10 years that the leaves are blocking the visibility of the store. But that’s something we really can’t do anything about.”

The city plans to assist in other ways, however, especially by way of helping business owners develop marketing strategies to weather the nine-month road closure.

The city plans to hold another public meeting within the next two months. In the meantime, business owners with questions or concerns can contact Dey at 846-0450, or Steve Gearing, owner of Happy Dog Pizza Company on Fifth Street. Gearing will serve as lead representative for downtown businesses during the streetscape project. He can be reached at 847-7575 or [email protected]

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