Jim Clark: Facing the construction challenge
May 17, 2016
I heard a saying years ago that is still applicable today.
"There are four seasons in Colorado: hunting, ski, mud and construction." (Yes, I'm the guy who doesn't care for the mud season moniker, but that's for another day.)
It's particularly true for us this year. With major construction projects underway on Yampa Street and at Central Park, things will be a bit challenging for locals and visitors alike. Add the joy of the Colorado Highway 9 roadwork, and a drive to and from the Front Range this year may test the patience of everyone.
On the bright side, there is truly light at the end of the tunnel (or the cone zone). When all three of these projects are completed, we will have the first half of downtown redevelopment done, with Oak Street to follow in 2017. Going to and from Central Park will be easier, and a trip to or from the Front Range will be shorter. In the interim, it's best to grin and bear it, or in the case of downtown, make the most of it.
As I mentioned last month, we're working with the city and Main Street Steamboat to communicate to the visiting public the best ways to get in and around downtown and Yampa Street, and locals can play a big part in that messaging. Much of the construction will work its way east from 12th street, so the restaurant community on the eastern part of Yampa will see less impact on the busy summer season, which is so critical to those establishments.
How can you assist? First of all, during the week it's important for downtown workers to leave as much parking for customers as possible. That means parking at the rodeo grounds — or even farther away — and walking a few blocks. Summer is a great time of year to park the car and ride the bike to work, shopping or your favorite happy hour.
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I'll also take advantage of the free bus service to avoid circling the block endlessly looking for a parking spot. Using the county lot on the weekends when their offices are closed is another good option.
In conjunction with Main Street, a number of trainings on navigating the downtown construction will be presented by our Service Excellence program, along with our regular training sessions. The training is designed for all public contact employees; let us know if you would like to participate.
This coming Memorial Day, the summer season begins with the Steamboat Classic Invitational Lacrosse Tournament. It's a great kick start to the season as we start the summer. The following weekend is the Steamboat Marathon, including the half marathon and 10K races. This year, the Chamber is focusing more of our advertising and marketing on extending the season into June and September and October. We know that summer weekends can be very busy, and promoting our early summer and fall periods is our opportunity to grow business and tax revenue with less impact on the community.
With the challenges we face with road construction this summer, it's important to make sure we're putting our best foot forward. Last summer, 46 percent of our visitors were here for the first time, and we received our highest Net Promoter Score of 78 percent. A positive interaction with a business or employee can make all the difference in a customer's experience, regardless of construction.
Have a great summer.
Jim Clark is CEO of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.