Letter: Stevens Point has turned its back on small businesses

Editor’s note: For clarity, the proposed alternative for the Bus. 51 project includes a four-to-three lane conversion, which some in the community also refer to as a two-lane road as below.

To the Editor-

I write this letter with a very heavy heart.

I have operated my small business in Stevens Point for 20 years. I love this city and the community that I live in—that is, until now. When this Vision Zero road diet began I knew it was going to be trouble for all small businesses along the Business 51 corridor. The combination of depleting our traffic count and visibility is going to take a giant toll on every business.

Nobody from the City of Stevens Point, from top officials down, has publicly stepped up and stated that they better take care of our small businesses. Not one! That is very troubling, knowing how much many businesses have given back to the community, whether it be from supporting local sports teams to donating to various functions across Portage County, to Cooper BP gas stations which have given well over $50,000 dollars to our local school system.

I am finding that it is going to be very difficult to overturn our Common Council’s decision to destroy the Business 51 corridor; very frustrating but also very sad. The impact of our city taking over 57 driveways from the businesses and turning a smooth traffic flow into a two-lane bottleneck is unforgivable and irreversible.

My intentions as of recent were to run for County Board, and eventually City Council, so I could make a difference in our community. Unfortunately, as I consider this move further I find it nearly impossible to serve on a council for a city that has turned its back on not only my business but all businesses on the 51 corridor. As much as I want to make a difference, it is too painful to consider a move like this.

The fight is not completely over for our quest to repair Business 51 and keep it exactly as is but time is closing in on us. I will continue to seek legal counsel on this matter and hope they can figure this out for not only the local businesses but every Portage County resident that hopes to travel Business 51 in an efficient manner.

Everybody I talk to does not want a two-lane road. Ninety percent of the people surveyed are against a road diet, yet our City Council and city as a whole have 100 percent turned their back on us.

I would like to thank the thousands of residents of this great community for your support on this issue and I pray daily that everything works out in the best interest of not only the local small business owners but the citizens of Stevens Point that want this unacceptable action stopped.

The cost estimate from the Director of Public Works is $38.4 million to reconstruct as is, and $45.3 million for the two-lane road diet. You make the call.

Kevin A. Flatoff
President, Flatoff’s Gold Key Motors Inc.
3400 Church St., Stevens Point

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