Money Better Spent Elsewhere

While the sidewalks are being torn up, walk-in traffic for Main Street businesses will dwindle

Kalispell has pretty drawings of what Main Street would look like if we spent money widening sidewalks and adding sidewalk extensions into traffic “to make the walk across the street shorter.” Pretty to look at, and pretty to live, which are two different things.

Those pictures show trees growing within the sidewalk extensions. Kalispell has many downtown tree stumps from trees killed by salting the roads. Kalispell plans to keep using salt to handle winter ice. Putting live trees in the proposal picture is misleading.

From experience, while the sidewalks are being torn up, walk-in traffic for Main Street businesses will dwindle. Last time the City of Kalispell did major sidewalk renovations, over a half dozen businesses went out of business during construction. More were out of business within months because after the work was completed, traffic did not increase as promised. For most businesses it became less than before the “improvements” because their old customers learned to shop elsewhere.

If the proposed sidewalk changes are done, there will be less easy in, easy out corner parking. The planned sidewalk extenders will make exiting corner parking spots more difficult.

From experience, the sidewalk extenders will make walking downtown with strollers and children in tow uncomfortable. Why? It will be necessary to stand next to traffic while waiting for a crossing light.

Why does anyone want to spend over $100,000 dollars widening Main Street sidewalks? When the weather is perfect – not too hot, cold, rainy, snowy, windy – we could have more room for sidewalk sales.

Should every Main Street businesses sacrifice income for a maybe advantage for a few perfect days? Or is our money better spent on year-round useful improvements like overhead crosswalks and/or a parking garage?

Fran Tabor