Relief on West Washington

Published 8:12 pm Saturday, January 18, 2014

There’s really never a good time to close one of the main thoroughfares through a city’s downtown area, and there’s hardly a good way to do so when a closure can’t be avoided.

But sometimes such things become necessary, as with the closure this week of West Washington Street for utility work associated with construction on the Monument Construction lofts project on the south side of the 100 block of that road. With the road already closed and torn up, work also commenced on an examination of the sewer infrastructure on the other side of the street. The extensive project was set to have the block shut down for the rest of the month.

With a number of businesses located along that block, there was great potential for the closure to cause great financial damage. In fact, after just a week, at least one business owner, Randy Withers of C3 Vino, said income had been down significantly.

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Still, Withers also said in an interview this week that he was pleased with the way the city had handled the closure, and his sentiments were echoed by Andy Damiani, whose heart for downtown Suffolk is almost legendary.

Both of these gentlemen are well known for their cheerleading on behalf of downtown Suffolk and the merchants located there, and both, therefore, deserve deference when it comes to their opinions about things affecting the climate in the city’s core business district.

The fact that both Withers and Damiani were complimentary of the way Suffolk officials have handled the street closure speaks well of those officials. In addition to running advertisements reminding folks that the businesses are still open, the city acceded to business owners’ request that the closure be suspended during the long holiday weekend.

Suffolk officials are to be commended for their willingness to work with the West Washington Street business owners to alleviate what could have been a very bad situation.