Imagine: Main without cars?

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Imagine: Main without cars?

Pedestrian mall idea for Durango still has a pulse
Jackie Shaw, center, said she, Gary Morgan, left, and Betty Morgan, right, would not have visited the stores on Main Avenue recently if they were not able to park nearby because of problems with rheumatoid arthritis. The three were visiting from Salisbury, N.C.
Main Avenue and College Drive at lunchtime. For years, the idea of turning downtown Durango into a pedestrian mall has been floating around. The success of Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall the the 16th Street Mall in Denver could be looked to as models for sucess. Most Durango businesses are opposed to the idea, and cars would have be parked elsewhere, which are hurdles.
Dominic Natarelli, 3, is probably one strong supporter of pedestrian malls as he cools off in a fountain on Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall in front of his mother Krista Natarelli, at left.

Imagine: Main without cars?

Jackie Shaw, center, said she, Gary Morgan, left, and Betty Morgan, right, would not have visited the stores on Main Avenue recently if they were not able to park nearby because of problems with rheumatoid arthritis. The three were visiting from Salisbury, N.C.
Main Avenue and College Drive at lunchtime. For years, the idea of turning downtown Durango into a pedestrian mall has been floating around. The success of Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall the the 16th Street Mall in Denver could be looked to as models for sucess. Most Durango businesses are opposed to the idea, and cars would have be parked elsewhere, which are hurdles.
Dominic Natarelli, 3, is probably one strong supporter of pedestrian malls as he cools off in a fountain on Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall in front of his mother Krista Natarelli, at left.
Successes and failures of pedestrian-only downtowns

The city of Boulder made four blocks of its downtown area, the Pearl Street Mall, pedestrian-only on Aug. 6, 1977, and city officials can’t imagine it being any other way.
The city of Greeley made the heart of its downtown pedestrian-only in 1982. By 2003, cars were back.
Sometimes, they work, sometimes, they don’t.
Dave Adams, deputy director of downtown Boulder, said several downtown businesses were struggling financially in the 1970s. The businesses’ owners asked the City Council to remove a portion of the street to build a walking mall, and the city agreed, he said.
There are pros and cons, he said. For instance, businesses lose customers via automobile and parking. But the system has worked for nearly four decades.
“I think it’s been a super positive impact on businesses,” said Marc Ginsberg, chairman of the Boulder Business Improvement District.
Also, Pearl Street performers draw crowds. Some of the popular performers, Ginsberg said, are a fire breather, a man who can fit himself into a small box and a man known as the “ZIP code guy” who can discuss where you live and some of the features with incredible accuracy.
Greeley, meanwhile, couldn’t make the plan work.
“It was beautiful. Everyone loved it, but there wasn’t a lot of people,” said Pam Bricker, executive director of Greeley’s Downtown Development Authority.
By 2003, the roads were reconstructed and reopened.
Although, the attempt to completely close the block failed, the business community made a compromise to receive the benefits of a pedestrian mall and vehicle traffic, Bricker said.
They kept the charm and the basic principles, she said. The brick sidewalks are wide for a couple of blocks. Drivers can still see shops and aren’t able to barrel through the streets, she said.
“It needed to happen,” Bricker said. “There are still places where it works like Fort Collins and Boulder. It didn’t work that well for us.”
vguthrie@durangoherald.com

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