Dear Council, Tom Bonfield, & downtown water main replacement project management:
As the water main replacement project drags into the autumn, my sympathies continue to lie with the downtown merchants who have suffered through multiple weekends of lost revenue, with seemingly no end in sight. I can’t help but feel that this project is being managed by people who have never worked in a retail business, and who feel no sense of accountability to the citizens & business owners whose taxes fund the work being done. It reminds me of the terribly planned downtown streetscape project of a decade ago, which drove Ringside out of business. Did we learn nothing from that project?
It adds insult to injury, then, when Mangum Street remains closed on a Sunday when apparently no work is actually being done. I’ll direct you to the tweet below, from the poor folks at Dos Perros, who have been impacted harder than nearly all other downtown businesses by this work:
It’s all very well and good to say that this is a once-every-90-years project (although one is compelled to ask: why are we replacing all of it at once, rather than staggering the replacement of sections, to spread out both the cost and the impact to businesses?) — but for the businesses being impacted, it’s a potentially cataclysmic event. Good city planning should take the reality of commercial business into account, particularly now that so many citizens have invested so much in revitalizing downtown. This project is being managed as though it were taking place in the downtown of 1995, a place that nobody wanted or needed to go after dark or on weekends.
Surely the Durham of 1995 is not the city you wish to be managing — so perhaps you & your contractors should alter your actions to reflect the reality we currently live in?