You can’t fight city hall … All you can do is work around it

Craig Hall, Publisher
Craig Hall, Publisher

Greetings and salutations from my new, palatial offices in the Business Times Tower. I’m writing you as I fend off the hordes of new clients breaking my door down to do business with me, all because I’m lucky enough to be located on those miracle miles of monetary momentum: University Boulevard.

Oh, wait. I’m dreaming. That’s the chamber and city and college talking. As for me, it will be printing bills, lost mail, lost checks, confused clients and the list goes on and on — from my same little office. But that matters not to those who know better because soon the kids will be able to take the light rail back to their dorms after a night out supporting their favorite establishment benefiting from some of the unimaginable dollars the university brings into town. The problem is, few of those businesses are actually on North Avenue/University Boulevard. And no matter the hype, businesses on North/University will still be doing what they’ve always done when it comes to what our “leaders” do — make their way around silly decisions by government that treats them unfairly. If they are there at all.

And the problem is, this was entirely predictable, as my reminiscing on North Avenue nostalgia will show. This all started in 2013, when Mr. Levi Lucero came into my office to “convince me this is the right thing to do,” to which I responded the name change was “treating a symptom instead of the disease.” (See my column: What’s in a name? Apparently everything, or perhaps, nothing. Aug. 13, 2013.) Sadly, what I wrote then holds true today: “… the fact is the corridor is an older business area in need of revitalization. Isn’t that what a nearly $1.2 million grant the city received was dedicated to address? … It’s very easily argued the university is an economic engine for the area and growing influence in the region. … That’s why the university changed its name a couple of years ago — to reflect those qualities and set itself apart from other institutions. But that’s the university’s name, which makes sense. Quite frankly, students attend Colorado Mesa University because of the value offered to students, not because of the name on the street. … Changing the name of a street is just a hassle and cosmetic answer to actually getting some economic drivers into the older areas.”

Let me ask you, has the occupancy rate gotten better or worse on North Avenue with the growth of the university? The answer is obvious for all to see. Here are my thoughts from 2015: “… let’s face facts … the upcoming, unquestioned name change of North Avenue to University Boulevard … has to be the worst-kept, next-approved item on the city council’s agenda. Of the estimated 800 businesses on North Avenue, only one really matters and benefits, and that’s because it gets a cool street name that matches what it does. … I’ve seen the estimates saying it will only cost about ‘whatever’ to change over the street name. Who cares? Here’s who: the business owners on North Avenue. … I printed up a small supply of envelopes, letterhead, folders, business cards and flyers for my business … about $800. … Now multiply that by 800. … How about all of the costs involved in changing business licenses and legal documents? Ask any small business owner how scary it can be waiting on a promised payment. … And then heighten that when a check is lost in the mail …The name change won’t help a business then. … For years we’ve been told the greatest asset we have in the Grand Valley is the lifestyle. … None of these are needed any longer if all it takes is changing the name of a street for success, jobs and economic growth. … change the name of College Place to University Place.”

College Place is long gone, along with any other ideas about North Avenue except the ones our leaders desire, as are Kmart, Hastings, Hobby Lobby, City Market and myriad other businesses. The fact is, the university wasn’t an economic factor for them — which is also true for most businesses (and people) in the valley. And changing the name of a street won’t change that, no matter how many studies say it will. Although if we pass a pot law … .

In another column in 2013, I stated I write at great risk of upsetting the leaders in our community. I also risk upsetting advertisers. This is one of those times. But there are voices like mine to be heard that were skipped over in this process. As a North Avenue business owner, the chamber reached out once, and I sent them a link to the above columns and never heard back. I never heard from the university. And as for city council? Come on, now. In certain parts of Grand Junction, outreach committees aren’t formed to go out and change opinion, they are formed to inform you of the change. This is indeed one.

But I don’t want these folks to worry, we’ll still professionally handle what you allow us to be part of — publishing your news releases. The day after the daily paper gets them, of course. And I won’t even use the government to force you to advertise in doing so.

Like most people, I just don’t do business that way.