When Todd Barman saw the Aug. 5 public notice that Main Street would be closing for 12 days in front of the business he and his wife run, Stoughton Sweet Shoppe, they contacted the city to find out more.
His main concern is not the ability of customers to access the business, even though both of its access points – on Main Street and Monroe Street – will be under construction. It’s the loss of foot traffic because of barriers saying road closed.
“The challenge we face is getting the word out that (customers) can still get to our front door,” Barman told the Hub.
Though an open house discussed the possibility of a closure as far back as Jan. 17, according to an email from public works director Brett Hebert, no public confirmation was made until a news release and Facebook post Monday, Aug. 5. In the spring, engineering consultant Strand and the city determined the closure was unavoidable, but did not set a date for the closure at that time.
Before that August post, some of the businesses the Hub spoke with said they were unaware it was even a possibility.
Erika Cervantes, co-owner of El Rio Grande restaurant, said she understands the need for the closure but she was surprised to not have known earlier. She noted that the restaurant closed for a week at the beginning of July, its first closure in 15 years.
“If we would have known we would have scheduled our vacation when the restaurant was less accessible to our customers,” Cervantes said. “It would have been a win win.”
The construction closure starts Aug. 19 and runs through Aug. 30.
The day after sending out the news release, Strand site representative Kyle White and Hebert went door to door through the six-block area that’s being closed. They walked business owners and residents through the planned construction, including how Strand will make efforts to maintain access to their businesses and the specifics of how to maintain access is being discussed this week.
“Most of the people we talked to understood the need for the closure and appreciate that we were going to do everything we could to maintain access for them and their customers,” Hebert wrote to the Hub in the email.
For any business owner that was not available, White left pamphlets with information, Hebert said.
Stoughton Tire and Auto owner Tod Goldade told the Hub he wants to be sure people still have at least one access to his business. At the corner of Main Street and South Harrison Street, keeping Harrison Street open is a must for him.
“I know the road needs to be done, the road is very, very bad,” Goldade said. “It has got to be done tactfully so it doesn’t hurt us more than it already is.”
Sandy Quam, branch manager at Home Savings Bank expressed the same sentiment. She did not know about the closure until an employee saw the public postings but was contacted by public works afterwards. She said as long as her customers have access to their drive through, she knows the road needs it.
Viking Motors, Christ The King Church, Dandelion Outfitters and Thrivent Financial were not immediately available for comment.
Barman said for their business, which has been open since December, it would help to change the electronic sign, which is located farther west on Main Street, to state businesses are still accessible in addition to the notification of the road closure.
Herbet said the public works department is having signs made to highlight businesses are open during construction this week.
He also said the public works department is discussing how to communicate with various groups for the larger Main Street closure in 2020. The Stoughton Chamber of Commerce is involved in that plan.