Business Jitters

A reader notes that many Mass. Ave. businesses have grave reservations about this whole project. (Read his comments following this post here.)

Some business owners oppose the plan outright. Georgia Rozanitis, who owns Christo’s Fruit Market, has expressed her opposition in the pages of the Arlington Advocate several times this past spring and summer.

Although I think the plan could be better in some ways, I hope it goes forward without further delay. Nonetheless there’s no doubt that business owners are right to have concerns and should continue to be outspoken, active, and vigilant.

The renovation program will disrupt traffic and replace sidewalks. It is a very big deal for a small business on the corridor, and continual involvement by the business owners will be indispensable to making the impact on those businesses as manageable as possible.

Think of it this way.

Suppose you learn that you need open-heart surgery. Suppose further that you engage the best, most experienced surgeon for the operation, at the best hospital in Massachusetts.

Now, is everything all right? No it’s not — because they are going to cut you open and stop your beating heart. After they restart your heart and stitch you back up it will be your body’s job to heal your split sternum.

So you, and your family members, learn everything you can about the procedure and are all over the doctors and hospital staff with questions and concerns and information that might be important for them to know. Allergic to sulfa drugs? Family history of diabetes?

And, probably, the result of this anxiety and information and advocacy is that you get better care.

Having the streets and sidewalks torn up is open-heart surgery on businesses. It doesn’t matter that it is (like the real open-heart surgery) a routine procedure with a high success rate. There happens to be a lot at stake.

Business owners are mistaken, however, if they treat the renovation as optional. That may have been true when this process began in 1996, but today the road, sidewalk, and fixtures are old and must be replaced, according to both the Town Engineer and the DPW Director.

To stretch the tortured analogy a bit further: if you actually need open-heart surgery, you worry, you learn, you advocate−but you’d be a fool to turn a blind eye to your serious health problem.

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