A city of Ketchum survey showed some support for keeping a stretch of Fourth Street closed to traffic—though the city plans to reopen the road to motorists come October.
Ketchum blocked off a portion of Fourth Street earlier this summer, initially blocking off two blocks between Walnut and Leadville avenues to vehicular traffic—a move that led to a lawsuit from business owners disgruntled with the closure without receiving any notification or comment period first.
Despite that, those polled generally liked the closure, according to a survey which began on Sept. 2, during the city’s “Feedback on Fourth” event. Nearly 400 people stopped by throughout the day, the city said.
The survey collected 365 responses, offering four options in a multiple-choice format. Three of them were positive: Are you “very supportive,” “supportive,” “somewhat supportive” or “not supportive” of closing Fourth Street to vehicles?
Of those, 41 percent opposed to the concept of Fourth Street closing—the most common single response. But, 59 percent showed some degree of support. Of the respondents, 40 percent were “very supportive,” while nearly 8 percent said they were “somewhat supportive,” about 11 percent were “supportive.”
Even so, the city will reopen the block between East and Leadville avenues at the end of the month, according to a city press release issued last week.
“We had great participation in this survey and will continue to involve the public as we evaluate options and discuss next steps,” Mayor Neil Bradshaw said in the release. “I am delighted with the creative ideas we heard and the encouragement we received.”
Following the City Council’s unanimous decision to close the street in early June, several business owners on Fourth Street launched a lawsuit to reopen the thoroughfare citing decreased traffic and parking around their stores.
The lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed on Aug. 31, according to court records.
The lawsuit, filed by George Golleher—owner of Bigwood Bread—claimed $500,000 in business losses. Golleher owns the building in which Bigwood Bread Cafe is located as well as the building behind, which includes McGary’s bridal shop and J. McLaughlin. Golleher also owns two other properties across the street that house The Crystal Healing Room and Steve Eich Antiques.
In an interview with the Mountain Express in July, Golleher said the city had made it “almost impossible to survive here.”
Other businesses echoed Golleher’s concerns. In a story from the Mountain Express published on July 24, one business owner along Fourth Street claimed the road closure had impeded access to clients who use wheelchairs to get around. Another business owner said business had plummeted due to the closure, while yet other business owners along the same block claimed that pedestrians were getting confused by the “Road Closed” sign, unsure of if the street was even safe to walk on.
Molly McGary, owner of The Manor House, on Fourth Street next to an alley, said there were near accidents daily due to drivers using the alley as a thoroughfare to get from Sun Valley Road to Fifth Street. Soon after the story was published, the City Council reversed course, opening up the block between Walnut and East avenues but maintaining the closure at East and Leadville avenues.
In an interview with the Mountain Express on Tuesday, McGary said her business is now doing well once more, noting how important drive-through traffic is to getting new customers in the door.
“For us, it’s all about exposure,” she said.
McGary called opening back up next month “a really good idea.”