Prune Alley improvements are taking a toll on island stores

Since mid-March, Eastsound has been in a state of chaos.

The long-awaited improvements to Prune Alley have resulted in road closures, traffic re-direction and limited parking options for those who are shopping, eating and socializing in town.

The project includes pedestrian and accessibility improvements, transportation infrastructure, storm drain infrastructure, water quality improvements, landscaping, lighting, and other streetscape amenities.

We understand that an undertaking of this scope is going to cause inconvenience. San Juan County and contractor Mike Carlson Enterprises have been doing their best to limit the impact on local stores, but it’s been devastating for business owners. The work is slated to be completed by September.

Keri Lago of Sequel Clothing Consignment wrote, “Access to our shop is severely limited and Sequel has taken a hit. Just one more thing to add to a long line of setbacks over the past few years. Please be patient, we know our hours have been a bit chaotic and inconsistent.”

The Kitchen has raised $10,000 in a Go Fund Me campaign to keep its doors open. In addition to staffing shortages and flooding from frozen pipes in the winter storm, road construction has given the restaurant little customer parking. “While we are excited about the town improvements and the future, it comes at an obvious blow to our business. There’s very little parking, and accessing our entrance has proven to be a challenge to many. The Kitchen is hidden from patrons that do not know where we are if Prune Alley is closed and needless to say, sales are not what they once were. We are also concerned going into the summer about the noise disruption and the dust,” according to organizers.

In addition to circumstances like COVID-19, severe weather and construction, there were a series of burglaries over the past five months, which left storefronts with damage and owners with broken hearts.

Please support our island businesses. It might be a hassle to park a few blocks away from your destination or to walk around instead of through a construction site. Shopping locally means supporting the community that is so dear to us. For every $100 spent at a local business, $73 remains in our island economy.

We also urge the county to provide financial relief to the places affected by the Prune Alley project.

And to all the business owners who are committed to providing us with wonderful goods and services right here at home, thank you.