For the last few weeks, downtown Belleville’s Public Square has been closed to traffic for updates to the water lines under the Veterans Memorial Fountain.
As much fun as that’s been for those who work downtown, consumers and other traffic passing through Belleville, how has the closure affected the businesses in the area?
I paid a visit to Sawdust & Glitter, on the ground floor of Lofts on the Square, on Tuesday and spoke to owner Lacie Loose, who is understandably frustrated with the situation. Loose said the most common feedback she already hears from customers is, “I didn’t even know you were down here.”
No wonder. She had just moved her business from 119 East Main Street to the Lofts site at 16 S. Illinois Street in late April, a few short weeks before the project began.
Being at a prime location on the Square, Loose relies on the shop’s visibility to passing traffic to help bring in customers.
Since the barricades went up and roads were closed off, she said the traffic – both vehicular and pedestrian – has dropped to practically nil.
She was at her new location for only a month when she found out about plans to close Public Square. She was officially notified by her landlord only nine days in advance of the project.
In a brief phone call, Illinois American Water spokesman Terry Mackin stated that the city and the affected businesses received notice about a week in advance of the project. (Mackin also writes columns for the BND.)
He added that in hindsight, business owners should’ve had more notice and been spoken to individually.
Since the project began in June, banners have been posted on barricades at the intersections, letting passersby know that businesses on East Main Street are open even during the roadwork.
In addition to Sawdust & Glitter, other affected businesses and organizations include Elated Hearts, HeartLands Conservancy, Nester Realty, Seven, Joe & Onie’s and Blanquart’s Rusty Gem Vintage Market.
On Tuesday, the sidewalk along the first block of East Main Street was open at South High Street. From there, customers could walk to Seven, Blanquart’s