Construction project impacting Third Street businesses
The ongoing construction project designed to add environmental and aesthetic improvements to Third Street may be impacting business for many of the local shops in the area.
The large project includes environmental improvements to the street so water runoff does not head into Ebey Slough, traffic circles to reduce speed on the road and more than 2,500 plants being added as new landscaping.
The construction began in November and is scheduled to finish by the end of April.
Many local business owners say they are excited for the improvements and the new look of the street, but in the meantime they have been seeing the effects on their bottom line.
"It is affecting my business, definitely," said Lorene Wren, owner of Wrenhaven Vintage Market.
"It's hard to have that happen through the holiday season. And it's hard to judge how much business I'm down now because January is typically a down month," she said.
Wren said that the construction still had to get done though.
"It's impacting my business where I've had to cut my people's hours back," said Marja Oosterwyk, owner of Oosterwyk's Dutch Bakery.
Oosterwyk said she has to make about $800 in a day to pay her bills and has had three days with around $250 in sales, and many days around $300, $400 or $500 in sales as well.
"I have never met my mark since January," she said.
"January's are usually slow, but I'm usually able to get close to my $800 mark," she said.
"Obviously we feel for the businesses," said Connie Mennie, communications officer with the City of Marysville.
The city is still trying to make the construction have as small an impact as possible, she said.
"If we have to close parking spaces we try to close the smallest amount of spaces possible," she said, and they've had crews clean up gravel and dirt from the construction, she said.
The city also scheduled the construction for this time to help avoid some of the busier times for the corridor, said Mennie.
"One reason that the construction is at this time is because when we talked with the business owners back in 2014 they asked us not to have the construction during the Strawberry Festival or Homegrown Street Festival," she said.
Although having the construction during winter has put some delays on the project.
"In November we told them the project schedule would be completed by early spring," said Mennie, "or done earlier if the weather cooperated, but it hasn't cooperated."
Although still on track for "early spring" she said, the freezing temperatures in January have delayed some of the work on the road.
Oosterwyk said that there have been days where the only access to Third Street is from State Avenue. When customers leave on those days they would have to make U-turns in the middle of the street.
For customers going to the Curves for Women, parking is more out of the way than usual, said owner Helen Knutson.
"If we didn't have the parking in the back it would be a lot worse," she said. Because Carr's Hardware closed at the end of last year there's a lot more parking available in the alley next to Third Street, she said.
Construction during the day is not planned to move any closer to State Avenue, said Marysville project engineer Adam Benton.
Some paving is scheduled for night work though, he said. That work was specifically scheduled for the night to avoid businesses being open, he said.
Many business owners were hopeful the aesthetic improvements would improve the downtown once finished.
"A key part of the project was to beautify the corridor," said Benton.
A large amount of landscaping, around 2,500 plants, including magnolia trees, shrubs, bushes, are being put into the street.
"I don't want to complain too much, because they're trying to make things look nicer out here," said Knutson.
"I'm looking forward to the beautification of the street," said Wren.
Oosterwyk said she was hopeful for the changes, but still had some concerns.
"Most of my customers are seniors and if they have obstructions in the road are they going to come down still?"
Some business owners also agreed that the environment aspects of the road probably needed to be fixed.
"I know it is about water runoff, and I agree that those things need to be addressed," said Wren.
Much of the project was funded from a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology, which put $750,000 toward the nearly $1.7 million total.
The grant helps fund development that would redirect water that would typically run into Ebey Slough and instead send it into the ground and remove pollutants from it.
"It's better for the environment when that roadway water runoff doesn't end up in Puget Sound. There are a lot of pollutants that end up in roadways from cars," said Benton.
Wren also added that the Marysville Street Festival is still happening this August.
"There has been some concern that we're not going to have it," she said. "The construction will be over by then and I think it will be a more beautiful street fair because of having the plantings down the center of the street."
The Strawberry Festival parade will also end down Third Street as it has done traditionally.
"The city has assured me that the parade will still come down State Street and turn down Third Street," she said.