Members of the Bingen Merchants Association got together for an informal discussion last week regarding proposed changes to downtown Bingen.
Approximately 20 business owners met at the Elkhorn restaurant in White Salmon on the evening of April 4 to air concerns about how the planned State Route 14 repaving project though Bingen and proposals for downtown revitalization might impact local businesses.
Key concerns raised by the merchants include:
Loss of on-street parking in front of businesses;
Costs to businesses for relocating utility wires underground;
Lack of notification from City Hall regarding how plans would specifically affect individual businesses;
The city's lack of funds for long-range revitalization projects;
Eventual loss of Guler Oil's card-lock station on Depot Street;
Inability of owners to plan because of uncertainty over future of Depot Street;
Changing plans make it difficult for merchants to know exactly what the end result will be.
According to Mike Zitur, owner of the Gorge House restaurant in Bingen, at least four business owners have indicated they will relocate if current plans for downtown changes are carried forward.
At the end of the meeting, members of the group agreed to attend the next meeting of the Bingen City Council -- scheduled for April 16 at 7 p.m. -- to discuss all of these issues directly with Mayor Brian Prigel and members of the City Council.
"The big emphasis is the loss of parking," Zitur stressed. "That's what affects us the most. And what they plan for Depot Street. Those should be our two main topics."