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Eatery owner wants big rigs parked elsewhere


This news story was published on March 28, 2011.
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MASON CITY — Business at Butcher’s Steakhouse in downtown Mason City increased by 50 percent after the street in front of the restaurant reopened to traffic, according to owner Laurie Buchanan. Story by Joe Buttweiler.|MASON CITY — Business at Butcher’s Steakhouse in downtown Mason City increased by 50 percent after the street in front of the restaurant reopened to traffic, according to owner Laurie Buchanan.

She’s worried the eatery will take a turn for the worse, though, when the streetscape project along Federal Avenue resumes.
So she’s reaching out to City Hall. “PLEASE HELP the downtown businesses,” Buchanan wrote in an e-mail sent Saturday to Mayor Eric Bookmeyer and City Council members.

Specifically, she is asking that construction vehicles not be parked on sections of street that are not being worked on, as they make it harder for customers to get to the stores.

“There has to be some other option for storage,” Buchanan wrote. She has suggested the vacant parking lot at the southeast corner of Federal Avenue and Second Street be used. Or side streets. Or maybe only half the street could be blocked off.
Councilman Don Nelson said Monday he referred Buchanan’s message to the City Engineer’s office, asking that efforts be taken to accommodate the business owners.

City Engineer Mark Rahm said that efforts will be made to keep businesses accessible and to accommodate the crews working on the streetscape project, which goes from Southbridge Mall to North Fourth Street. It includes replacement of utilities, street reconstruction, new sidewalks and lighting.

Everyone seems to agree it’s going to look beautiful when done. But the duration of the project ñ which has been lengthened due to underground utility complications ñ has been hard on businesses. Many of the owners attended a meeting Thursday and expressed their concerns.

Rahm said four pages of good suggestions were gathered. As many as possible will be incorporated into plans for the completion of the project, he said. Work is expected to resume in a couple weeks and to be finished Aug. 1.

“We are going through them (suggestions) and trying to put them into the plan as best we can to accommodate the business owners and the contractors,” Rahm said. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be inconvenience. Because of the work left to do, “There will be a whole lot more contractors on the project, so it’s going to be hard to keep equipment off the street.”

Use of the vacant lot at Second Street is a possibility, he said.

Buchanan, who opened Butcher’s Steakhouse at 118 N. Federal Ave. in February of 2010, said in her memo that she realizes “our street will have to be shut down at some point to finish the sidewalks, lights, landscaping etc. But PLEASE don’t let them shut our street down just to store equipment. “

She said she loves being downtown and hopes to be there “for many years to come. PLEASE help us find a solution to this problem so that we don’t lose anymore businesses downtown.”

Rahm said he understands the businesses have struggled, and noted that businesses near Buchanan’s have already been through the worst of the project.

That part of the street is already paved.

”The majority of the really intensive work has been completed in that block,” he said.|

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