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The Salida City Council hosted their regular meeting on May 18 where they heard three community members speak about how the F Street Plaza hurt their businesses during the 2020 summer season. As the city approaches another summer with a designated pedestrian plaza, the topic is clearly still an open issue.

“I feel the city is impeding my business,” said one local business owner who cited negative impacts, the owner of the Little Red Tricycle Adrian Kuhn.

“I choose to have my business on F Street because that’s the main street. I essentially am not on the main street in the summer,” she added. “I watch people walk up F Street, get to the end of the pedestrian area, and turn around.”

“My sales were down 30 percent in June [last year] and 51 percent in July; in fact, my summer sales were lower than my first year in business. My sales were up 35 percent last quarter when the streets were open.”

Salida City Council listens to public presentations at first meeting after public health orders loosened the mask mandate, May 18,2021. Left to right, front row – Dan Shore, Jane Templeton. Rear row – Harald Kasper, Mayor P.T. Wood and Alisa Pappenfort. Participating virtually were Council Members Mike Pollock and Justin Critelli. Merrell Bergin photo.

Kuhn went on to explain that she isn’t against the F Street Plaza but asked to have it extended to include her store so it would be closed between Second Street and the mid-block alley.

“I’m essentially just asking to be treated equally as the other businesses on F Street. Better sales for me and my neighbor businesses are better for the city,” she said.

Her ideas were echoed by other businesses owners (such as Dick Leavitt of “Here’s the Scoop” ice cream)  who also aren’t currently included in the plaza created by the summer closure of F St.

By the end of the meeting, council expressed a desire to look further into the request in consultation with Public Works and the Police Department.  However, City Administrator Drew Nelson said that they had previously considered this idea, yet logistically there are traffic and safety issues that would have to be overcome.

Moonlight Pizza and Brewery and outdoor patio at 242 F Street in Salida, which is also beyond the 2021 planned F Street Plaza area. Photo by Merrell Bergin

Council went on to approve several local special event plans including FIBArk, Sunfest, Ark Valley Pride and Bluegrass on the Arkansas.  Some minor edits were made to the FIBArk plan including the clarification that the event is partially ticketed.

Council approved a funding request from the Central Mountain Resilient Entrepreneur Ecosystem. This program is being constructed by the Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and the Central Mountain Small Business Development Center (SBDC). It will create a network of resources to support new start- up companies and expand services around innovative approaches to housing, healthcare, childcare and workforce development.

This includes new training programs, assistance with access to financial resources, mentoring for new start-ups, collaborative meetings, and an assessment of the infrastructure available for entrepreneurs and start-ups here in Chaffee County.

Salida City Council approved the expenditure of $15,088 from the Economic Development Fund as its municipal share to support the EDC and SBDC’s application to the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA)’s REDI grant program for the Central Mountain Rural Entrepreneur Ecosystem program.

Due to the new guidelines released by Chaffee County Health, for those who are fully vaccinated, the meeting was led without facemasks for the first time in more than a year,  To watch the full meeting, click here.