Some good news came out of an exchange of letters between small-business advocate Bess Wills and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, with a revelation that the county has finally put teeth to a late September deadline for completion of the Stark Street project.
You all remember — some better than others — that the county barricaded Stark Street between Northeast Kane Drive and Troutdale Road in late June, the beginning of a months-long closure to allow the replacement of the Beaver Creek culvert running below the roadway.
Though the completion date has been fluid, the latest date is Sept. 29, which actually means the full project will be finished a little ahead of the original plan. Even better, we're learning now that the county has put the contractor on notice of financial penalties if its fails to bring the project to close on time.
Even better, the county is reporting that it has dollars available in its contingency fund as incentive for completing the project ahead of schedule.
All of that's good news, especially to the people who own or operate businesses in the area that feel the greatest impact of the closure, primarily those at the intersection of Stark Street and Troutdale Road.
Wills, who has stepped into the fray as an advocate for the Troutdale business operators, points out that a year-over-year comparison is showing businesses in the affected area are experiencing as much as a 40 percent decrease in revenue during this street closure.
Everyone generally supports the environmental benefits for improved fish passage, and community improvements with the installation of sidewalks. But the unfortunate cost of this project has been heaped on local businesses.
By the time this project comes to a close, the summer months will be gone and fall will be in full swing, always a time when business slides into the autumn doldrums. The ability to recoup lost revenue will be gone, left to businesses to absorb as best they can.
We hope that Multnomah County realizes that each day that street is closed means more and more loss for these businesses. Which is why we hope Multnomah County officials hold contractors accountable to meeting their deadline.
Like Wills said, businesses are people too.